Not In My Neighborhood | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Not In My Neighborhood

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Arizona Company, at TurnAround Theatre.

Chicago playwright Don Hayes, no newcomer to show business, nonetheless contents himself in his evening of three one-acts with unfocused fool-on-the-hill stereotypes, bathetic prisoner-of-society stereotypes, and slapstick spoofs of stereotypes long obsolete. In his Go to Arizona and Wait a young journalist is intrigued by the homeless schizophrenic he interviews. In Law of the Land a young gay man, quarantined by a totalitarian government in the year 2033, pours out his story to a robotlike guard. And in We're All Nuts a megalomaniac therapist bullies two of his clients and doses a third with a paralytic potion, then prepares to carve up the frightened but immobilized woman with a circular saw.

Allegedly the derelict in Arizona is based on an actual person, but making something factual is not the same as making it interesting, nor are cliches any less cliched for being true. And one need not be a Freudian to find an eros-loving German-accented psychiatrist boring, nor a feminist to be revolted by the sadistic dismemberment of helpless victims.

Some thoughtful character-centered portrayals might have partially rescued the first two one-acts, just as some Sid Caesar-style zaniness might have salvaged some of the third. But the only company members who appear to be taking their jobs seriously are director James C. Krulish, who trots out some reliable comedy shtick in We're All Nuts, and actor Chip Schubert, who plays the journalist, the prisoner, and an angry patient. Someday they might be an asset to some venture less inspired by vanity.

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