Lilies, or the Revival of a Romantic Drama | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Lilies, or the Revival of a Romantic Drama

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Lilies, or the Revival of a Romantic Drama, Journeymen, at the Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. Michel-Marc Bouchard's 1987 play is typical of much recent gay theater, which too often employs overwrought theatrics and overwritten dialogue to tell morally simplistic stories. The play is set in a Quebec prison in 1952, where Bishop Jean Bilodeau has been summoned to hear a dying inmate's confession. Instead he's taken hostage by a gang of prisoners led by Bilodeau's boyhood friend Simon, who got a life sentence after Bilodeau testified against him in a murder trial 40 years earlier. They force the bishop to watch their reenactment of the events that led up to the trial, conspiring to implicate him in the murder.

Bouchard gives his script a certain ritualistic intensity, which helps provide credibility for the preposterous setup. But his romantic leads, the young Simon and his teenage lover Vallier, are meant to be interesting simply because they're gay and frowned upon--these ciphers rarely say or do anything noteworthy. Meanwhile a parade of semicaricatured townspeople who liken homosexuality to the plague provide a two-dimensional backdrop for Bouchard's moralistic melodrama.

In the past, director Frank Pullen has coached many a nuanced performance from his Journeymen, but this time the acting is broad and flat, adding little to Bouchard's shallow script.

--Justin Hayford

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