Wounded Souls | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Wounded Souls

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Wounded Souls, Outcast Productions, at Voltaire. So let's get this straight: a confused, angry young man named Ned tells an inept priest that he's deliberately infected a religious woman with AIDS, so the priest goes to her and asks her to forgive Ned and ease his pain. This is the premise of Robert Tobin's unusually bilious new drama, pervaded by a genuine and occasionally compelling sense of rage. But little else rings true.

The violent penultimate scene of retribution seethes with anger at what Tobin perceives to be a world of "deep darkness." But most of the hour that comes before registers as a contrived setup for the nihilistic payoff, full of stilted dialogue and anticlerical rants. The initial encounter between Ned and Anne, whom he picks up at a bar, feels so forced and Ned's screeds (as performed by Tobin) are so self-involved and disingenuous that the prospect of any sort of relationship between them strains credibility. The following scene in Anne's apartment, when the two reveal their fears, their love of poetry, and their palpable loneliness, amounts to little more than rote revelations and apologies.

Tobin clearly thinks that his long-winded speeches, with their references to Job and bitter take on Jesus and the New Testament, are profound and insightful. But without a reasonable plot or fully developed characters, Wounded Souls falls flat. What remains is one monotonous wail, full of sound and fury, signifying you know what.

--Adam Langer

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