The Balsa Heart | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Balsa Heart

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The Balsa Heart, Side Project, at the Side Studio. The fifth and final one-act in this collection is the evening's best, though that isn't saying much. Stephen Cone's November Boy is a lovely, honest look at two aging men coming to terms with mortality. The script can be vague, and Liz Warton's staging is awkward, but there are some funny and touching moments, especially after a straight pinup boy (the winning Matt Dolgin) is invited into the home of these gay partners of 36 years (Michael D. Graham and an uneven Elliott Fredland).

The four short plays preceding this one are more trying. Adam Webster's Beautiful Ugly dully deconstructs the language of love, and Hank Bunker in Futon Dialogues perplexingly ruminates on inertia in a couple's relationship. The style of both plays is reminiscent of David Ives, but without the wit or vim. Guy J. Jackson's slightly absurd Marrieds might have been comical--a man haggles with a hit man over the price of killing the neighbors while his wife works on a crossword puzzle--if Brandon Bruce had directed it at a brighter pace and elicited better acting. James Bozian's DB's Here, depicting people at a vigil for a dying friend, is a plodding, unoriginal opener, suffering by comparison to November Boy, which addresses similar emotions. One play with promise is too small a payoff for this two-and-a-half-hour show.

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