In the Spotlight | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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In the Spotlight, New Leaf Theatre, at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center. In An Idle King, the first one-act on a program of three written by New Leaf company member Brandon Ray, an elderly couple consider their status as the only survivors among their circle of friends. In the second, Faultless, a blocked jazz musician gropes in vain for the melody that will win back his wife's love and respect. And in Faster Than a Speeding Bullet, Diana Prince and Hal Jordan (aka Wonder Woman and Green Lantern) encourage coworker Clark Kent to lighten up when it comes to off-duty romances.

Ray, who writes with an uncommon maturity and compassion, never patronizes his characters in the interest of showing off his own cleverness, instead maintaining a bittersweet humor about the ironies of the human--or superhuman--condition. And though last-minute cast replacements required a few actors to work from camouflaged scripts at the performance I attended, the players' expertise, under Lila M. Stromer's direction, made for personalities at once recognizable and individual.

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet rambles a bit, and the songwriter's spoken-word rhapsodies in Faultless need some fine-tuning. But the first entry in New Leaf's proposed annual local playwright series suggests it will be a fresh addition to the scene.

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