Homeland Security | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Homeland Security

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Homeland Security, Victory Gardens Theater. Returning from an overseas trip, an Evanston couple are questioned at O'Hare for four hours. The woman, Susan, proposes calling a lawyer, but her lover shrugs off the experience as a mere inconvenience. Then the woman's ex-husband begins to fret over the safety of their son, and official queries start to intrude on her home life. She finds herself growing suspicious of her lover, Dr. Raj Gupta, whose parents come from the Rajputana district of India, on the Pakistan border.

Are these "inconveniences" caused by the parties' ethnic backgrounds? When does skeptical caution become paranoid hostility? To what extent are citizens required to cooperate with government officials? Playwright Stuart Flack offers no answers, preferring to bait, cajole, intimidate, flatter, soothe, bully, and manipulate his audience as well as the naive protagonists. And finally we too are forced to grapple with painful uncertainty in pursuit of "truth."

Under Sandy Shinner's direction, James Krag makes ex-husband Paul a stuffy bigot. Dr. Gupta is portrayed by the sweet-faced Anish Jethmalani, while Julia Neary plays Susan. Kenn E. Head conducts his inquisition with the zeal of a bureaucrat who's seen too many movies--but though such superficial hints might tip the balance toward one interpretation or another, the conversations of departing audience members revealed as many conflicting theories as a playwright aiming for controversy could want.

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