The Dying Gaul | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

THE DYING GAUL, Apple Tree Theatre. After all the commercial success Craig Lucas has had, it's extraordinary that he still can't write a coherent play. In his newest puffed-up trifle, The Dying Gaul, he tells the story of first-time screenwriter Robert, who's peddling a script based on the recent death of his lover from AIDS. When studio head Jeffrey offers Robert a million dollars if he'll make the gay characters straight, it seems this will be yet another Hollywood morality tale. But that plot all but disappears by the second scene, and Lucas goes on to invent new stories every ten minutes: Robert's struggle to let himself grieve, his therapist's efforts to keep from getting too involved with his patient, Jeffrey's battle to define his sexual orientation, Jeffrey's wife's inexplicable compulsion to impersonate Robert's dead lover in Internet chat rooms.

As usual, Lucas strings together a series of semivolatile, semiplausible situations that never develop but instead conveniently explode whenever the snappy chitchat ebbs or the poetic superficialities dry up. No meaningful point of view develops, and ultimately all moral crises are dismissed with a shrug. Still, director Gary Griffin coaxes strong, credible performances from his four cast members--a feat akin to spinning gold out of air.

--Justin Hayford

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment