Donna Blue Lachman has always been a fabulous storyteller--personable, funny, warm--but she hasn't always been a great actress. When she played Frida Kahlo in a celebrated one-woman show, she played Frida as she would have been if she'd been Donna Blue. But earlier this year Lachman played all five members of the fictional Fischer family in the comedy Family Secrets, an experience that's reflected in her revival of The Thirst. When it premiered a year ago at the Blue Rider Theatre, it seemed just another installment in Lachman's autobiography, concerned with her memories of her grandfather and great-grandmother and the stories of their shtetl life in Central Europe. Containing footage shot by her grandfather during a trip through Europe in 1936, the show was alternately funny and moving. But though Lachman reached for poignancy, she never quite achieved it. This time around she seems much more sure of herself: when she impersonates her great-grandmother, she actually re-creates her right down to her slumped shoulders and world-weary demeanor. Suddenly Lachman's show isn't just about Lachman anymore but about all the people who've touched her in some way: her family, her friends, her long-dead distant cousins. And through Lachman they touch us. That's something only an actress with a gift can do. Apple Tree Theatre, 595 Elm Place, Highland Park, 847-432-4335. Through March 11: Tuesdays, 7:30 PM; no show February 4. $18. --Jack Helbig
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Rick Tuttle.