Savage/Love and Lovesick | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Savage/Love and Lovesick

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ClothMother Productions, at Footsteps Theatre.

Requited love is a short circuit, Samuel Beckett once darkly quipped. Not a problem in Caryl Churchill's 1967 barbed seriocomic radio play. In Lovesick no love goes requited, and the unhappiest character is the guy at the center of it all, a selfish, manipulative psychiatrist who'll do anything to win over his lady love, even screw up the lives of everyone around her.

As in Churchill's best work, the characters here are strong and the language is vivid and funny. Director Maria Earman's adaptation of this radio play for the stage is graceful if not always fully realized visually. You could sit through this production with your eyes closed and still get 95 percent of what's going on. As for Earman's cast, they range from merely OK to pretty good, with Christopher Garrett starting out stiff and cold as Dr. Hodge, then warming up to the part.

ClothMother Productions pairs Lovesick with a bizarre 16-year-old collaboration between Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin, Savage/Love. A masturbatory bit of late-70s nonlinear experimentalism, this piece combines poetic, often pretentious text with dancelike but often graceless movement. The subject, I gather, is love, specifically the myriad ways that women--according to two male writers--attempt to attract lovers, deal with them once they have them, and get over them once they leave. But I could be wrong. The original text is opaque, and director Julieanne Ehre's choreography is so cliched and clumsily executed by her all-women cast that it's hard to figure out what this mess is supposed to mean. Or why the company chose to do it.

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