Young Playwrights Festival | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Young Playwrights Festival

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Young Playwrights Festival, Pegasus Players. Those who feel cynical about the state of theater and the younger generation can take heart at Pegasus Players' 16th annual showcase for teen writers.

This year's lineup--four plays directed, designed, and performed by professionals--shows a refreshing tendency to avoid the cliches of adolescent angst. Emily Rabkin's The Downtown Train is the only work with a teen protagonist, and her story--a shy girl meets a schizophrenic boy on the el--provides an offbeat view of how we learn to trust others and ourselves. As the unlikely friends, Rachel Wilson and Kevin Stark deliver nuanced, convincing performances. Ruth Martin's Free Will! is a delightful Pirandellian bagatelle about a writer (Stark) who learns he's a character in someone else's play; Brian Posen brings an impish charm to the muse who clues the writer in. In The Elevator Syndrome Maria Sutcliffe-Hetman dissects with remarkable insight a marriage gone sour. And Marques Alexander Jackson's Chameleon portrays a Motown girl group on the verge of success whose members must come to terms with their mistakes and turf wars. Barbara L.W. Myers as the quartet's wisecracking voice of truth redeems the sometimes soggy or melodramatic material with her sharp delivery.

Inexperience produces some excesses and other missteps, but all four writers exhibit the kind of compassion, curiosity, and risk taking that some of their older colleagues would do well to emulate.

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