Virgin's Vows | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Virgins' vows, Out-of-the-Box Theatre, at Bailiwick Arts Center. Given that many young artists consider anything written before 1975 "period drama," Out-of-the-Box Theatre's selection of an obscure 1833 comedy by Polish playwright Aleksander Fredro is commendable. But even in Noel Clark's breezy translation, Virgins' Vows is too derivative to be entertaining. The plot concerns two country-raised maidens who swear they won't marry: it seems Clara's intended has embraced the melancholy affectations of the latest fad, Romanticism, and Aniela's is a frivolous city-bred party animal.

F. Martin Glynn directs a competent classroom production, his cast neither fighting nor surrendering to the script's rhymed couplets--though only Roger Ainslie as the mischievous Gustave succeeds in making them conversational. He's also alone in projecting a consistent personality. The feisty Clara--the most modern of the female characters--would have made a far worthier opponent for him than the airheaded Aniela, yet both Kay Cannon and Jessie Bernard have succumbed to the airy singsong tones that so often infect actresses in frilly dresses. The intimate Bailiwick loft space, with its exposed roof beams, strikes the right note of wholesome authenticity, but Virgins' Vows ultimately scores higher for its intentions than its execution.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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