The Treatment | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Treatment


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THE TREATMENT, A Red Orchid Theatre. Martin Crimp's play may have an impressive pedigree--productions at the Royal Court Theatre and the New York Shakespeare Festival--but it fails the fundamental plausibility test of Playwriting 101. Anne, a skittish, inarticulate survivor of domestic abuse, wants to sell her life story to moviemakers Jennifer and Andrew. The problem is, she has no story to tell; all she manages to say between distracted musings is that her husband taped her mouth and talked about a parking lot. Jennifer and Andrew spend the entire first scene trying to drag tiny details out of Anne--excited about the potential of her experience, as though no one's ever heard of an abusive husband before. But given Anne's inability to tell a coherent anecdote, let alone her life story, why would these slick producers bother with her? And why does Anne approach them in the first place? And how can we believe in a world where blind men drive taxis?

Crimp never answers these questions, opting instead for facile observations about moviedom's propensity to corrupt and sensationalize human tragedy in the name of entertainment. Red Orchid director Adrian Bucher manages to elicit some surprisingly strong performances from his nine cast members, most notably Bill Bannon as the paradoxically tortured and soulless Andrew. But it's a shame to have wasted so much talent on such thin material.

--Justin Hayford

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