THE ANGELS OF LEMNOS, Chicago Dramatists Workshop. The homeless people populating Jim Henry's new play are not the desperate, dirty, unkempt, urine-soaked street psychotics we see everyday. Rather they are the sort of wise, lovable, good-hearted down-and-outers who exist only in the work of sentimental playwrights. Henry gives us the philosophical father figure, the loving surrogate mother, and, at the center of things, a sweet, childish, Christlike mentally challenged young man whose hallucinations make up most of the story. Watching over them all is a kindly policeman with a gruff voice and the manners of a parish priest.
Director Robin Stanton throws her considerable talent into making this treacly story plausible and palatable, filling the show with great Equity and non-Equity actors like Larry Neumann Jr., Holli Hornlien, and Chaney Kley Minnis and coaxing from them the kind of richly layered performances that made Stanton's version of The Glory of Living such a fine evening of theater. But no amount of brilliance can redeem a play so silly and shallow. In the climax, the kindly policeman actually offers to reward a street person with a bath and warm bed in a shelter for the night. Henry never seems to recognize that this magnanimous "reward" should be the bare minimum a citizen might expect in a civilized society. --Jack Helbig