Maggie: A Girl of the Streets | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Maggie: A Girl of the Streets

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In a program note, Side Project adapter Adam Webster describes Stephen Crane's 1893 novel about hardscrabble immigrant life in New York's Bowery as a love story. He even has Crane wander about reading love letters. True, one of the book's main plot lines is a budding romance between impossibly naive Maggie--who "blossoms in a muddle puddle"--and doltish Pete, but their doomed relationship is more sociological exhibit than love story. Like Upton Sinclair, Crane depicts characters as victims of violent social forces that crush the weak and turn the strong into brutes. Webster largely ignores these forces in favor of domestic melodrama, and director Jimmy McDermott softens the main characters' nearly sociopathic hostility into brooding introspection. The result is affecting at times, especially given Danielle O'Farrell's compelling, fragile performance as Maggie. But without the Bowery's lethal threat, her saga lacks urgency. Through 11/21: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM. Side Studio, 1520 W. Jarvis, 773-973-2150. $12-$15.

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