KISS MESS, Directors Theatre of Chicago, at the Athenaeum studio theater. In its mission statement, the fledgling Directors Theatre of Chicago says that it hopes to harness "the power of the individual voice"--a curious sentiment from a company whose logo looks like a winged Nazi flashing a Sieg Heil. Unfortunately, with their new production, Kiss Mess, they've lassoed a playwright with precious little to say.
The play's description in the company's season brochure tells you nearly all you need to know: "Flye lives with Sear, who kisses Kelea, who sleeps with Flye. Flye fights with Sear, then kisses Sear, but moves in with Kelea. Flye now lives with Kelea, who kisses Sear..." Brian Ness's script doesn't add much emotional or psychological depth to this flip promotional copy, presenting an evolving love triangle as little more than a matter of mismatched libidos. Although his twentysomething characters describe their alleged emotional crises to one another in exhaustive detail, all the while bemoaning their inability to "connect" with others, Ness never dramatizes these dilemmas, trusting empty rhetoric to give his play stakes. We're left with a string of scenes that ask only one question: Which pair will end up in the sack this time?
Ness would do well to ask himself a more important question: Who cares? --Justin Hayford