The Drowning Girls | Strawdog Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

The Drowning Girls The Short List (Theater) Image Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through June 6 2015

Signal Ensemble Theatre's "fantasia" on England's notorious George Joseph Smith murders—three brides dead in their bathtubs within weeks of marrying the bigamist swindler—dazzles at first. The brides emerge, gasping, drenched, from separate claw-foot tubs, the only items on Buck Blue’s netherworld steam-room set, then play catch with a bar of soap while describing a dozen women’s murder scenes. It's lyrical, disturbing, and tantalizingly indecipherable. But after that, playwrights Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson, and Daniela Vlaskalic endlessly reiterate two ideas: women under patriarchy too often find self-worth only in marriage, and abusive men play on their insecurities. True enough, but 80 minutes of topic sentences doesn’t make a play. Director Melanie Keller largely limits her agile cast to two attitudes: desperate optimism or portentous irony. —Justin Hayford

Price: $15-$23



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