Waiting on Sean Flynn | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Waiting on Sean Flynn

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Waiting on Sean Flynn, Close Call Theatre and T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L. Productions, at the Chicago Dramatists Workshop. If Steve Patterson's Vietnam drama had even half the impact of the 60s rock tunes played between scenes he might have ended up with something dramatically engaging. But unlike these concise, precise, often subtle songs, Patterson is verbose, sloppy, and blatant.

In a rooftop hotel bar in Saigon near war's end three American journalists find themselves inexplicably attached to Vietnam and haunted by Errol Flynn's son: the suave, drugged-out, Christlike photojournalist Sean Flynn, who disappeared in Cambodia in 1970. Hyped-up photographer Keef is desperate to return to the States; Tom, the professorial print bureau chief, won't leave until he finds Flynn; and Lee, the hard-assed radio reporter, can't decide whether to go home or keep following "the goddamn story."

All of this is familiar but little is credible. Keef, Tom, and Lee's conversations are convoluted, directionless, and laden with cliches. In Lisa L. Abbott's sluggishly paced world-premiere staging, none of the actors are able to find more than a modicum of truth in the pat dialogue or lengthy flashbacks into the psychedelic nightmare of Vietnam. Whether the play's chaotic, ill-conceived conclusion--Sean Flynn's ghost returns to find a miniature war exploding between the characters in the Saigon bar--is the director's fault or the playwright's is difficult to say. Certainly they must share the blame for the rest of this well-intentioned but inert production. --Adam Langer

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