The Queen's Black Nightmare | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Queen's Black Nightmare

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The Queen's Black Nightmare, Mom and Dad Productions, at the Viaduct Theater. In all three one-acts on this program, the worst thing that can happen to a character inevitably does. In Peter Shaffer's 1965 Black Comedy, a struggling sculptor steals the furniture of his finicky gay neighbor in order to impress his fiancee's father and a potential patron. Not only does the apartment building have a blackout--represented by a brightly lit stage (when the lights are on, the stage is dark)--but the neighbor comes back and the sculptor must secretly return the furniture in the dark. In ensemble member Michelle Zee's Kleptopatra: Queen of the Shoplifters, a fashionista who regularly shoplifts items worth thousands of dollars is wrongfully arrested for stealing a $7 pair of underwear. And in Christopher Durang's The Actor's Nightmare, an accountant is trapped onstage and must perform crucial roles in several classics without knowing any of his lines.

Though fun, these quirky plays aren't intriguing enough to sustain a two-hour-and-40-minute production; the company would benefit by dropping one. The best of the bunch turns out to be Kleptopatra: swiftly directed by S. Wilson Lee, Zee's tale skewers pop culture and is so funny that audience members were bent over laughing. But all three pieces show off the comic versatility of the actors, especially Joe Feliciano, Jamie Mayhew, and Zee.

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