The Woolgatherer | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

The Woolgatherer



The Woolgatherer, Flat Iron Productions, at Flat Iron Gallery. Given that William Mastrosimone's lyrical, somewhat romantic drama of two mismatched loners falling for each other is one of the most overproduced plays around, and given that Dan Halstead and Ann Koons are not the most seasoned or skilled of actors, and given also that they're performing in a noisy Wicker Park art gallery, they acquit themselves reasonably well.

Halstead (who also directs) certainly looks the part of the caustic, world-weary trucker Cliff, and though he displays little emotional range, he's convincing in the play's quieter moments. Similarly, as the meek, birdlike Woolworth's worker Rose, Koons has an appropriately vulnerable manner that serves her well when she isn't asked to fly off into moments of rage or emotional anguish. The setting's dingy intimacy and the actors' quirkily uncertain performances at first reveal the humanity in Mastrosimone's overwritten, somewhat hackneyed characters--when Cliff is played by an actor of greater skill and volatility, he can come off as irritating at best and utterly despicable at worst.

In the end, though, the show's laggard pace and hesitant acting scuttle it (this staging runs about 20 minutes longer than the last production of The Woolgatherer I saw). And though we may be rooting for the actors to rise above their limits, ultimately there's little drama, pathos, or passion in Mastrosimone's treacly, shopworn conclusion. --Adam Langer

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