My Heart, My President | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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My Heart, My President

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In his solo show, New York-based writer, director, and performer Kestutis Nakas re-creates the crazy liberty of being home sick. Loosely based on Nakas's memories of recovering from rheumatic fever, My Heart, My President centers around a single fateful day: November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated. Nakas recounts in loving detail everything that passed through his ten-year-old mind--his boredom, his anxiety, his flights of imagination, and how the two major events of his life, his illness and the president's death, seemed to collapse together. The images on TV--Jackie Kennedy's bloody pink suit, the solemn progress of the horse-drawn caisson, John-John saluting his father's coffin--all seemed to symbolize and articulate the pain and uncertainty in his own life. In his fevered state, Nakas hallucinated that Kennedy, like some TV hero, had escaped his would-be killers and sought shelter in the Nakas home, a story this seasoned veteran of New York's off-off-Broadway and performance scenes tells with wit, intelligence, and sensitivity. His work can be a bit rough--paunchy and middle-aged, he's not always convincing as a ten-year-old. And he's clearly more writer and director than actor, but the honesty of this piece is truly disarming. The production is part of "New Play 2000," a four-month festival presented by the Prop Theatre Group and the National New Plays Network. Lunar Cabaret, 2827 N. Lincoln, 773-486-7767. Opens Thursday, August 10, 8 PM. Through August 13: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $20. Note: Nakas offers a theater workshop on Wednesday, August 9, at 11 AM at the Field Museum of Natural History, Roosevelt at Lake Shore Dr. (use west side entrance). Free, but preregistration is required; call 773-486-7767 for more information. --Jack Helbig

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