Venus | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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In 1810 an amply endowed South African woman named Saartjie Baartman was displayed as a sideshow freak--but the Hottentot Venus's story doesn't seem to interest playwright Suzan-Lori Parks much. Instead she aims to capture the character of the time and examine showmanship. Director Jaclyn Biskup and the Mill (formerly Experimental Theatre Chicago) bring a charming carnival quality to the show; Darci Nalepa in particular is big and bold in her barkerlike role. Still, the production drags when the script gets repetitive and in the longer scenes. Mostly, though, this Venus lacks an emotional heart. Jeremy Young earns our empathy as a man torn between love and science, but we feel little for L'Oreal Jackson's Venus. Through 10/8: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM, Mon 9/11, 8 PM, Athenaeum Theatre, first-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500, $15-$20, industry shows Thu.

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