Milestones | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Milestones, Laughing Lantern Theater Company, at the Players Workshop. This three-act play addresses our reaction to and fear of technological change, the miscommunication and misunderstandings between different generations, gender and class issues, and family dysfunction. But however contemporary it sounds, Arnold Bennett and Edward Knoblauch's Milestones was first produced in 1912 and follows a British family, the Rheads, through three generations beginning in 1860. By choosing this play, the Laughing Lantern Theater Company draws social and political parallels between an earlier age and our own era of high technology and mass communication.

Unfortunately, the dusted-off script has more life to it than much of the acting in Laughing Lantern's debut: this production is stiff and stagy. Director Rick Sullivan's uneven cast are enthusiastic, but too many of them seem to be playing at their characters and are unable to make them come across as genuine. Generally the women in this production are the ones who breathe some vitality into the script and make it watchable, though ironically the women characters in Milestones play restricted social and familial roles: the bright and beautiful Gertrude Rhead (Jennifer Teter), for example, who in the first act breaks off her engagement to a man who treats her like a child, then suffers through the rest of the play as an impotent aging spinster. The struggles still resonate.

The Laughing Lantern Theater Company are to be commended for this unusual choice; hopefully their next production will be as bold in terms of performance.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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