Sister 121 | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Sister 121, Dream Theatre Company, at Journeymen Theater Company. If Ayn Rand had scripted a snuff film, it might have turned out a bit like Jeremy Menekseoglu's new play, directed by the playwright and John Reents. Set in a home for "abused, disfigured, and unmarried women" in a nameless country where a bloody cultural revolution is under way, Sister 121 offers a Randian polemic against the forces of anticapitalism, using the women's plight in much the same way some justified bombing Afghanistan because women were suffering under the Taliban. Prolonged descriptions of the tortures visited on the country's ruling class, now imprisoned by a secular order of "sisters," veer into the pornographic.

Menekseoglu's script has an occasional crystalline elegance, and the staging is competent, though all the actors--particularly Rebecca Lincoln as the head sister--need to speak more loudly and clearly: the acoustics are tricky in this church sanctuary. But the playwright lacks the intellectual honesty to explore why people get pissed off enough to stage revolutions in the first place, resorting to the argument that "it's all the academics' fault!" Eventually his prisoner heroine (who believes being wellborn entitles her to everything) delivers her version of Gordon Gekko's "greed is good" speech to the sisters, hauling herself up on feet that just moments earlier were supposedly so broken she couldn't walk. Maybe she has magic invisible bootstraps.

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