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Streeterville

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Streeterville, TimeLine Theatre Company, at the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ. Depending on your point of view, George Wellington "Cap" Streeter was either a total wacko or an unqualified visionary. In the summer of 1886, Civil War veteran Streeter ran his ship aground on a sandbar east of Chicago Avenue and claimed the land as his own, anointing himself governor. Three decades of legal battles ensued before Streeter's empire--a strip of land between what is now the Museum of Contemporary Art and Navy Pier--was taken from him and he was left penniless and broken. But his legacy lives on: the neighborhood still bears his name.

Playwrights G. Riley Mills and Ralph Covert have certainly tackled a fascinating subject in Streeterville, but their historical drama isn't much more than a rough pastiche of some of the vaudeville exercises of Streeter's own time. And with a wedding, a funeral, a pair of musical numbers, and a play within the play, there's a bit of everything in the script--everything but a true dramatic anchor. Good performances abound (especially Christopher Thometz as the lovable but dull Alderman Palmer), and Nick Bowling's innovative staging makes strong use of a ridiculously elaborate set. But amid the blinding light cues, the pounding hammers, and the cacophony of too many voices fighting to be heard, something integral to the story is lost: the unity of Streeter's madcap vision.

--Nick Green

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