Homecomings | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Part of the Goodman's Mamet festival, this program of three short plays starts with a very early work and progresses to a very recent one, getting meaner but also more masterful along the way. The Duck Variations (1972) portrays a pair of old kibitzers whose park-bench ruminations produce only one solid conclusion: that the young Mamet was a talent of extraordinary potential. In The Disappearance of the Jews (1983) the ruminations come from a couple of boyhood friends who've reached their late 30s and have wives, kids, solid jobs, some fond memories--and dark fantasies of escape. Home (2005) dispenses with the ruminations, the friendship, and most certainly the escape fantasy: it's a harsh sketch of marital breakdown as psychological death match. Though The Duck Variations is half ruined by a preening performance from Howard Witt, the other two (and a half) productions deliver powerful effects, ranging from sweet delight to Medean rage. "Homecomings" reinvigorates a festival whose first two offerings seemed to do its subject's reputation more harm than good. Sat 4/8, 8 PM, Wed 4/12, 7:30 PM, Fri 4/14, 8 PM, and Sat 4/15, 2 PM, Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, 312-443-3800, $15-$35, festival passes $70-$205 (do not include admission to The Revenge of the Space Pandas or American Buffalo: A Celebration).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.

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