The Madman and the Nun | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Madman and the Nun

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It's no surprise that Stanislaw Witkiewicz's aggressively irrational plays were largely unknown when he committed suicide in 1939 (the Nazis were closing in on his native Poland from one direction, the Russians from another). Not only were his absurd scripts several decades ahead of their time, but the author was dismissed as a madman thanks to his devotion to narcotics, his antisocial personality, and his posture as a bohemian sex addict. But these days, given the giddy theatricality and subversive venom of these nightmarish plays, it's hard to fathom why Witkiewicz isn't produced more often. Experimental Theatre Chicago shows just how engaging and disturbing his work is with its spare, compelling staging of The Madman and the Nun, the final event in this year's Around the Coyote Fall Arts Festival. Lunatic and radical poet Alexander Walpurg receives a visit from Sister Anna, a nun brought in by the asylum staff to probe his tortured psyche. Instead the two have a torrid affair and send the play spinning out of control. Monica Lopez and George Ketsios take a measured approach that almost makes this turn of events seem natural. Chopin Theatre, downstairs stage, 1543 W. Division, 773-342-6777. Sunday, September 12, 10 PM. $7.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Anastasios Ketsios.

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