Immoral Morality | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Immoral Morality

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Immoral Morality, Plays Well With Others and the Synergy Therapy Theatre, at the Heartland Studio Theater. The program describes this show as "an original play by Michael Burdick." But there's nothing original--and damn little that's entertaining--in Burdick's tiresome take on the dysfunctional family. Drug addiction, alcoholism, and mother/son incest are all presented with a sniggering tone in Glenn Schudel's staging, and the acting's all over the map. The mother, a boardinghouse proprietress (Carol Donohue), offers her lodger--and son's best friend--$5,000 if he'll sleep with her daughter, Denise. She backs up the offer with an unconvincing threat about mobsters. Things from there are pretty much a downhill run of sexual innuendo, coke snorting, nonstop drinking, and supposedly shocking revelations of the "omigod, the annoying southern Christian lady next door is a lesbian!" variety. As Charlie, the hapless would-be gigolo, Alex Balestrieri does convey some humanity and warmth. Laura Roshelle as Marcy, an odd-duck boarder, has good comic instincts as well. But Donohue mangles many of her lines, and Marisa Sanders is unable to get beyond shrill bitchiness and further into Denise's supposedly deeply wounded character. If this were a one-act farce it might have been endurable. But Burdick stretches out this journey into the heart of family darkness for two repetitive acts--only to tie things up with the trite, pandering conclusion that the heart wants what it wants. And his contrived interpolation of a monologue about September 11 is downright insulting.

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