Letter Purloined | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Letter Purloined


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My brain hurt after this show, but I've never felt so good about falling into a state of utter confusion. David Isaacson's smart, funny script is divided into 26 chronological segments, performed in a different randomly determined order each night. (His scenes--like the holes in an ingeniously designed golf course described in the show--are all "welcoming" enough to be first and dramatic enough to be last.) The characters are three couples: a poet king and psychoanalyst queen, a left-brained detective and her right-brained military husband, and a police superintendent who strives to create order and her mischief-making courtier spouse. Diametrically opposed, each partner cancels the other out, obviating any search for meaning. The story concerns a stained handkerchief (think Othello), a stolen letter (think Poe), and the slaughter of unnamed innocents (think Bosnian war criminal Radovan Karadzic). All these elements and many others percolate together to produce Theater Oobleck's tasty stew, studded with moments of hilarity; especially rewarding are Heather Riordan's queen, Isaacson's king, and David Kodeski's Ogai ("Iago" backward). A rotating set allows the couples to regularly appear in bed, while Erica Erdmann's costumes are cleverly timeless. Through 2/11: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 773-347-1041, $12, "more if you've got it, free if you're broke."

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