Written On Water | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Feral Theatre Company, at Red Orchid Theatre.

The commune of teenage dropouts in Feral Theatre's Written on Water purport to be none other than the airheaded Percy Bysshe Shelley, the melancholy Mary Godwin, the egotistical Lord Byron, and his groupie Claire Clairmont. But the four--permissively chaperoned by jolly Dr. Polidori and his bag of magical medications--more closely resemble the self-absorbed adolescents of Beverly Hills 90210, exhibiting plenty of obsessive crushes, sadistic control games, drug-assisted orgies/nightmares, casually spontaneous sex, and jealous snits, all analyzed in curiously modern language ("Do you love me unconditionally?"). Perhaps this should come as no surprise: the romantic ideal that values intuition over intellect has been periodically revived by young people ever since Shelley and Byron.

None of the Feral authors/players are likely to be mistaken for poets, but their slightly wooden, undeniably droll interpretation of literary history is accessible. Perhaps the script has a future introducing blase high schoolers to the steamy world of classical literature.

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