Holiday | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Holiday, Impulse Theatre Company, at Bailiwick Arts Center. Despite its advanced age, Philip Barry's hit of the '28-'29 Broadway season remains charming and sweet if not particularly profound. Though Holiday isn't nearly as frantic or funny as Barry's better-known screwball comedy The Philadelphia Story, it wins us over with its strong characters, nicely wrought dialogue, and well-told story, about a young, wealthy businessman who wants to chuck it all in favor of travel and adventure while his conventional fiancee has other ideas.

Holiday is not, however, actor-proof. Barry's sophistication is as much a curse as a blessing, and a clueless cast like the one director Diane Honeyman has assembled for Impulse Theatre's not-ready-for-non-Equity production can easily reduce this nuanced play to a three-act exercise in arch, stuffy theater. With one exception--Jeff Alguire's rich, layered performance as the alcoholic brother--everyone in the show seems miscast, underrehearsed, or simply in the wrong profession. As the protagonist, Steve Decker speaks every one of his lines, even those tinged with anger, in the same annoyingly chipper "I'm a nice guy and I have no interior life" voice. Impulse artistic director Amy Heath-Bell, playing the role immortalized by Katharine Hepburn in the 1938 movie, fares slightly better, though only by comparison.

--Jack Helbig

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