One of 1993's best productions--and probably its most provocative--Michael Maggio's staging of David Mamet's controversial play has grown enormously in sly effectiveness since its opening last September. The main reason is Daniel Mooney's much-improved performance as a put-upon college professor whose career crashes around him when a student accuses him of being elitist, sexist, and pedantic. Mooney always had a strong grasp on his character's emotional imbalance, a mix of idealistic high-mindedness, smug self-absorption, and self-destructive weakness. But he has finally loosened up enough to master Mamet's fluid, carefully crafted language as well, a language that brilliantly conveys the impotence and alienation of its painstakingly articulate character and the decaying liberal establishment he embodies. Now that Mooney is more evenly matched with Kara Zediker--whose blistering portrayal of the student burns with vulnerability, irony, and the fervor of a generation dispossessed by its elders' failures--Oleanna is in hilarious and harrowing form as a sharp, cautionary, Orwellian satire of our society's ever-accelerating fragmentation. Wellington Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Open run: Tuesdays-Fridays, esdays-Fri days, 8 PM; Saturdays, 6 and 9 PM, Sundays, 3 and 7 PM; additional matinee selected Wednesdays, 2 PM. $29.50-$36.50.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dan Rest.