Simpatico | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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SIMPATICO, Dramatist Revolutionary Army, at Performance Loft. Something's not quite right in Sam Shepard's Simpatico. Most of the strangeness is intentional--deceit and duplicity rule in this 1995 film noir revenge tragicomedy. Set in the shadowy world of corrupt thoroughbred horse breeding, it pits cutthroat businessman Carter against his down-and-out childhood friend Vinnie. Having concocted several illegal schemes together in the past--including blackmailing the California racing commissioner--they're beholden to each other even as each connives to double-cross and break free of the other. But almost every fuse that Shepard lights in act one fizzles out in act three, and without the archetypal undertones that give his other work resonance, this play feels like a stylish diversion.

Director Jaimie-Lee Wise has a hard time finding a consistent style, and each of the seven scenes feels like it's from a different play. The ordinarily sharp Steve Walker seems a bit blunted as Vinnie, though Ed Keller as Carter slices up his opponent admirably. Overall, the cast alternate underplaying and overplaying Shepard's dark comedy, and the production never comes into focus. --Justin Hayford

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