Pink | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Pink, Bailiwick Repertory.

Douglas Wood is one of off-Loop theater's busiest composers and musical directors, with credits ranging from Lifeline to Steppenwolf; in this Pride Performance Series production he steps out front as a singer and actor. Combining monologues, poetry, and soft-soul songs, Pink offers interlocking vignettes about gay life. One series of speeches concerns a Texas preacher's son and his evolution from terrified teen to out-and-proud adult coping with the AIDS crisis; Wood puts an intriguing spin on the story by moving from the present to the past. Another group of sketches depicts a boozy old movie star on Merv Griffin's talk show, reenacting her Oscar-winning scenes and paying tribute to "the funny boys" who supported her career. A third set of scenes portrays the tragicomic existence of one of those fans, a lonely queen hiding from life in his living room with a phone in one hand and a TV remote in the other. The songs include a disco-style ode to a go-go boy, a gospel-tinged gay-lib anthem called "I Am Not the First," and a meltingly pretty ballad called "Tommy's Fool."

Wood's script and score (which includes additional material by Mark Insko) are pretty good--some of his lines are quite funny, his serious moments are well structured, and he's a fine tunesmith. But he's not a strong enough performer to anchor what is essentially a one-man show despite the presence of two male dancers. Though Wood has a lovely singing voice with a flexible falsetto, his delivery is mechanical; his attempts at pop-star gesturing are not dynamic; and his dramatic characterizations lack variety and precision even when the emotions are honest. Pink is a showcase for a gifted writer who's out of his depth onstage.

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