Wild Dogs! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Wild Dogs!, East Window Theatre Company, at the Greenview Arts Center. What makes Daniel J. Rubin's dark comedy so unpleasant is not its unmitigated cynicism but the shrillness of its familiar nihilistic pronouncements and the smugness of its hip pomo attitude.

In the rapid-fire style of a children's adventure, Rubin gives us 15-year-old twins Albert and Trudy, who are plunged into the abyss of late-20th-century America when their mother chops off her ring finger and abandons them. During their picaresque journey the teens come to understand the high cost of survival as they encounter a grotesque panorama of TV-suffused fictional and historical figures: Monty Python-esque old ladies trying to one-up each other in stories of gang rapes, vaudeville characters steering a crate of crack babies to the projects, a salty Marine, a tire-iron-wielding thug. At the play's climax Trudy and Albert tie their negligent father to a chair and pull a gun on him, declaring "You gave us shit."

The high-voltage anger is pervasive but rarely convincing, and as presented by the East Window Theatre Company, the play is little more than a sophomoric antiestablishment rant performed with a self-conscious anarchy reminiscent of late-night college variety shows. Rubin has impressive credentials (he wrote The Viewing Room for Steppenwolf's New Plays Lab), and beneath the angry posturing of Wild Dogs! there are hints of intelligence and a social conscience. Rubin may be capable of creating an intriguing play. But this one doesn't qualify. --Adam Langer

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