Hitting Town | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Hitting Town

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HITTING TOWN, Profiles Performance Ensemble, at Red Bones Theatre. By contrasting a brother and sister's dead-end lives with the nihilism and insanity of a string of terrorist bombings, playwright Stephen Poliakoff actually manages to make incest palatable if not appealing: well before Spanking the Monkey came Hitting Town, a still-biting 1975 tale of forbidden love.

Ralph is bored and seething with untapped energy, a dropout. Clare is reeling from a bad breakup. Together they decide to hit the town, searching for anything, even danger, that will make more sense than the IRA detonations going on. For Ralph getting caught is a way to connect. Calling in as a prank, he manages to upset a talk-radio host by flaunting his love for Clare (and pushing her one step closer to consummating it). Aimlessly they pick up another drifter, a would-be chanteuse with a scary penchant for breaking into screams. When Clare and Ralph return to her apartment, they try to stave off their loneliness with each other. Sadly, risking scandal and breaking a taboo don't make them any less anonymous--but at least these two achieve something far more human than blowing people up.

John David is a powerhouse in Ken Mitten's crackling staging: an actor who superbly fuses intelligence and instinct, David plays the risk-loving Ralph with the cockiness of a 21-year-old demi-suicide but also digs beneath the character's self-destructiveness to find the hard-core pain. Laurie Larson is not as successful at conveying Clare's crisis, shrouding her in a withdrawal that seems more like distraction than despair. Never mind--it's David's show.

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