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One of the most exciting events of this season has been Remains Theatre's importation of writer-director Raymond J. Barry, an LA-based veteran of such seminal avant-garde companies of the 60s and 70s as the Living Theatre and the Open Theatre. Barry practices theater at its most personal and revealing, and his presence has pushed the Remains company to new levels of risk in their own work. Barry's autobiographical Once in Doubt, an alternately harrowing and hilarious study of the obsessive relationship between an artist and his live-in lover, showcases Remainstays William Petersen and Amy Morton in their best performances in years. Now Barry has stepped into the role he wrote for himself, and he and Petersen will alternate shows. Barry's sometimes bizarre larger-than-life acting style, in contrast to Petersen's more tautly naturalistic approach, is both a guide and a goad to Morton, who responds to the script's lightning-fast shifts between comedy and tragedy with white-hot power and quicksilver fluidity. Also benefiting from Barry's influence is Gerry Becker, whose portrayal of an unwitting intruder into the lovers' battles has grown over a few weeks time from a mere comic device to a genuinely affecting figure. This is a fabulous show--electrifying and thought-provoking. Remains Theatre, through August 23 (1800 N. Clybourn, 335-9800). Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 5:30 and 9 PM; Sundays, 3:30 and 7 PM. Note: Raymond J. Barry appears Tuesdays, Thursdays, and in the early shows on Saturdays and Sundays; William Petersen appears Wednesdays, Fridays, and in the late weekend shows. $17.50-$20 for reserved seats; $10 general admission.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Liz Lauren.

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