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Possible Worlds

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Possible Worlds, Airscape Productions, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The idea that multiple realities can exist at the same time has fascinated dedicated scientists like Richard Feynman, pop writers like Michael Crichton, and combinations of the two like Canadian playwright-mathematician John Mighton. But Mighton uses this heady mindscrew of an idea to explore a rather banal, familiar subject--the multiple ways a male-female relationship can be played out. The result is a somewhat dumbed-down scientific treatise suggesting a cross between an X-Files episode and a clever but mechanistic David Ives skit.

The script--a hit in Canada, where Robert Lepage is now adapting it for film--offers a series of alternate possibilities for a relationship between George and sphinxlike intellectual Joyce. Their interactions take place in the context of a campy B-movie plot in which a pair of plodding investigators track a mad killer who's murdering geniuses and stealing their brains. The whodunit aspect allows Mighton to address various theories of neuropsychology, and the script contains some chilling passages and thought-provoking fantasies and conjectures. But ultimately it's not compelling enough to succeed as drama or complex enough to succeed as scientific or philosophical speculation.

Airscape's production, directed by Rob Chambers, takes a very clear, straightforward approach to the material. But only Sarah Charipar--mysterious, witty, and vaguely sinister in Joyce's numerous incarnations--transcends the flatness of Mighton's insufficiently ambitious material.

--Adam Langer

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