Sight Unseen | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Sight Unseen, Thirsty Theater, at the Pilsen Theatre. An early work by Pulitzer-winning playwright Donald Margulies, the witty Sight Unseen deals with art, egotism, passion, religion, and racism. The play centers on Jonathan Waxman (Ted Kijeski), a renowned Jewish-American artist visiting his first love, Patricia (Mandy Schneider), while in England for his European debut. Describing herself as Jonathan's "sacrificial shiksa," Patricia is now in a loveless marriage and still bitter about her breakup with Jonathan 15 years earlier. The two other characters--Patricia's "painfully shy" but territorial husband (Douglas Wynne) and Grete, a confrontational German art critic (Dorothea Emery)--provide opportunities for Jonathan to show his true colors.

The Thirsty Theater ensemble performs well enough but doesn't give the script all it deserves. What's intended to be "natural" unfortunately comes across as nonchalant, reducing the play's impact. And the actors' performances are uneven: they capture certain personality traits well, but other aspects of their characters are seriously underdeveloped. Director Mitchell Newman may be going for realistic blocking, but his choices sometimes feel forced.

--Jenn Goddu

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