The Designated Mourner 

Wallace Shawn's 1996 drama is set in an unnamed country whose intellectual elite have been purged in a proletarian revolution. (The skimpy details evoke Nazi Germany or Mao's China, but Shawn seems also to be addressing the debasement of American culture.) The play finds self-absorbed Jack, his wife Judy, and her poet father Howard recounting the events that led to Howard and Judy's executions, leaving Jack as their "designated mourner." Shawn's dense text, structured as a series of overlapping monologues, is an ambitious choice for the small, non-Equity Right Brain Project, and the actors aren't always up to the task. Only Elizabeth Bagby as Judy fully conveys the sense of being emotionally changed by the act of describing a life she's actually lived.--Albert Williams a Through 8/11: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Side Project Theatre, 1520 W. Jarvis, 773-750-2033, $10-$15.

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