Three Hotels | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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THREE HOTELS, Thirsty Theater, at the Big House. Jon Robin Baitz's harrowing 70-minute examination of the human price of economic colonialism strikes even closer to home than it did in its 1995 Chicago debut. In three monologues delivered by a rapacious baby-formula marketer (a la Nestle) and his regretful wife, Baitz equates the disintegration of their marriage with the death toll exacted by the businessman's work: he employed saleswomen disguised as nurses to persuade third-world mothers to abandon breast feeding. As a result they poisoned their babies by diluting the expensive formula with lethal tap water.

Now that corporate corruption has come home to roost, Three Hotels really resonates. Carl Occhipinti's staging lacks the urgency of Gary Griffin's for Apple Tree Theatre (David Darlow and Kristine Thatcher were stunning), but the banality of its evil hits hard. Mitch Newman gives a chillingly ordinary shell-shocked passivity to disgraced professional pillager Kenneth Hoyle, who's repudiated his Peace Corps idealism and the memory of his parents' Holocaust survival, rejecting the righteous for the bottom line. Janet A. Carr as the corporate wife who's already sacrificed her son--he was knifed to death in Rio for wearing an expensive watch--can barely subdue her disgust at taking so long to wake up from a lifelong nightmare. The audience, Baitz implies, should consider its own invisible links to dead babies.

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