Raised in Captivity | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Raised in Captivity

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Raised in Captivity, Speaking Ring Theatre, at the Chicago Cultural Center. In Nicky Silver's absurd play about love and redemption, long separated twins are reunited at their mother's funeral. The emotional Bernadette (Jennifer Leavitt) is trapped in a safe but loveless marriage to a wry dentist (Kevin Gladish) who wants to become an artist and move to Africa ("Gravestones," he says, "look like teeth"). She wants to know that her quiet twin, Sebastian (Michael Brownlee), does not have a perfect life. Indeed not: he's thousands of dollars in debt, has been celibate for 11 years, and had a lover who died of AIDS. His only human connections are with his loony lovesick psychologist (Kristine Karvelas, who also plays their mother's ghost) and a convicted murderer and drug addict (a fine, sensitive performance by Sean Patrick Leonard, who also plays a prostitute).

Silver's characters are so self-involved they're blind (in one case literally) to the pain of those they supposedly care for. This could be seen as tragic--but Speaking Ring emphasizes the farcical, exposing the script's holes in a production that's funny but insubstantial and meandering. Under the direction of Chuck Karvelas, the young cast yell, throw themselves on the floor, and generally have a ball overacting. Too bad, because it's during the understated moments that their talents gleam.

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