Musings & Asides...Topuc: Sex | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Musings & Asides...Topuc: Sex

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Musings & Asides...Topic: Sex, Pantheon Productions, at the Chopin Theatre. This program of monologues lives up to its title: a procession of famous literary and historical figures delivers rambling discourses on erotic matters. Written by the actors who perform them, the speeches are uneven but share one quality: they don't have much to say. Instead of probing the psychology of Orson Welles, Judy Garland, Cupid, Juliet, Montgomery Clift, etc, the pieces recount anecdotes from the characters' usually unhappy lives and describe but rarely illuminate their moral or emotional conditions.

This play, intended to fall into the genre of Jane Martin's Talking With..., comes across as a glorified casting call, one actor after another auditioning for our approval. Directed by Kevin Theis, they generally make creditable but unexceptional impressions. The ones who play celebrities come nowhere near capturing the right mannerisms or intensity; more successful are Patricia Thompson as Eleanor of Aquitaine, giving emotional conviction to her tale of a discarded middle-aged wife, and Laurie Buck as the Unabomber, seeking revenge on the men who've returned her love letters unopened.

The only real gem here is a very funny turn by Eric Johner as the Cat in the Hat, lounging in stovepipe hat and long johns as he declaims his Dr. Seuss-ian doggerel "Fun Sex Rex" ("Would you try it in a car? Would you try it in a bar?"). Succeeding on sheer silliness and charm, Johner puts to good use the superficiality that flaws more serious attempts, like Dennis Stewart's supposedly profound but actually sentimental characterization of God.

--Albert Williams

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