A convict gets an unexpected reprieve in There Is No Power for the Electric Chair | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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A convict gets an unexpected reprieve in There Is No Power for the Electric Chair

Bulgarian playwright Alexander Sekulov’s drama makes its American debut.


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Bulgarian playwright Alexander Sekulov's 50-minute one-act, translated into English by Holly Karapetkova and directed by Zlatomir Moldovanski, receives its debut American staging here as part of Trap Open, Trap Door Theatre's off-night incubator series. Logan Hulick plays an unnamed convict who gets an unexpected reprieve from being fried in the electric chair after a cataclysmic event takes out the city's power grid. He spends the rest of the play attempting to con Leonard (Christopher Donaldson), his executioner, into letting him go free now that the world is over. The script gives almost no space to the convict's backstory, but he was evidently some kind of artist until he murdered a schoolteacher. He spends the show jumpsuited and bound, sometimes with a hood over his face, incessantly bagging on Leonard for his job, his bad smell, and the fact that he doesn't read. Prolix and a churl, it's unclear how the dude thinks never shutting up will score him any points. At times, you almost wish that a backup generator would kick on or something.

Donaldson is a complete wet blanket as Leonard. His blunt replies keep any energy from building between him and the convict. There are a couple of decent rallies, like when the two debate the relative merits of electrocution and beheading with a scimitar, but nothing raucous or moving. The steady depletion of available oxygen in the room is much remarked upon, and by the end of the night, we felt it thinning out too.   v

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