Hurlyburly | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Of all the searing portraits of Hollywood, David Rabe's Hurlyburly must be the nastiest, most brutish, and longest. Even in Michael Patrick Thornton's well-paced production, it's more than three hours with two intermissions. Set in 1980 and '81 and first performed at the Goodman in a pre-Broadway engagement in 1984, Hurlyburly concerns a pair of jaded drug- and alcohol-abusing casting agents and the lowlifes--failed actors, struggling writers, oversexed runaways--who slither through their lives. Such full-throttle decadence can be catnip to actors who confuse screaming with creating a character. But wise performers like the two at the center of this superb production, Brendan Donaldson and Paul D'Addario, know that it's more moving to underplay their roles--a choice that humanizes them and gives the rest of the cast a chance to explore the rich inner lives of their own characters. Through 2/18: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2 and 7:30 PM, Gift Theatre Company, 4802 N. Milwaukee, 773-283-7071, $15-$25.

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