The Still Time | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Still Time



THE STILL TIME, Porchlight Theatre Ensemble, at the Neo-Futurarium. This play's parts--and this production--are stronger than its whole. A stirring new work by Kathleen Cahill, The Still Time tries to connect three women, living and dead, in a bond of mutual healing. But their crises are more convincing than Cahill's solution. Homeless and deserted, Pat is a 22-year-old heroin addict in detox who finds herself visited by two presences. Sophie Scholl was a young German student who joined the anti-Nazi White Rose resistance and was martyred by the gestapo in 1943. The other visitor is "saloon singer" Nancy LaMott, a rising New York star who died of cancer just the previous December at the age of 43. They encourage Pat to admit that "the world is not a dream" and to change her life. How she can, with so many cards stacked against her, is left in doubt.

Cahill writes with wry humor, and her dialogue is strong, especially Pat's rhapsodic, druggy images of persecution and redemption. But philosophically the play seems dubious: comparing Nazis with today's drug enforcement is a stretch, for example. And its forced parallels don't convince: the women's differences are more dramatic. The role of Nancy, sweetly filled by Stacey Bean, exists only to sing Cahill and Robert Hartmann's tunes. Still, Wm. Eric Bramlett's staging is first-rate. Pat Caldwell as Pat still hungers for hope, Beata Swiderska incarnates Sophie's scary heroism, and Mark Burns virtuosically depicts the women's lovers.

--Lawrence Bommer

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