Nuts & Mints | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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NUTS & MINTS, New Millennium Theatre Company, at Boxer Rebellion Theater. Some days it's hard to be a woman. For bride-to-be Alicia (Amy Rath), the challenge is particularly daunting on the eve of "the most important day of her life." Suddenly she's surrounded by harbingers of domestic doom--a mother assuring her that married life means settling for less and abandonment at the first sign of cellulite, girlfriends giving detailed baby-poop reports, and an imaginary ideal-woman alter ego (Heather McCabe) telling her to lighten up and accept her fate. But instead of going along with the program, Alicia burns down the local "Juggs" restaurant.

Some see the theater as a platform for social commentary. However, without a strong story to support the soapbox, the result is often a group of people sitting around saying, "You know what I hate?" In this case it's hard to feel empathy for a character like Alicia, and even harder to imagine why anyone would marry her. Perhaps that's the reason Rath, McCabe, and a few others perform with a hesitancy suggesting they're either uncomfortable with their characters or unsure of their lines. Furthermore, while modern woman's identity crisis is (sadly) an enduring topic, playwright Marcie Schwalm needs to find new ways to attack it. The ideal-woman character is an interesting twist, as is Schwalm's use of dream sequences featuring the likes of Eve, the Virgin Mary, and Lizzie Borden. But martyr mothers and proposals for man-exploiting restaurants called "Peckers" are well-worn material. --Kim Wilson

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