4 by Guare | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

4 by Guare 

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4 by Guare, Eclipse Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. The pleasure that playwright John Guare describes in making an audience crazy, so "they can all come together with laughter or some kind of delight," is readily apparent in these four one-acts, persuasive pictures of people too close to the edge or coming down to earth from love.

The first and final plays are ensemble offerings depicting characters desperate to preserve the status quo. In Fireworks Lie Secret Codes assembles five New Yorkers on a terrace as they try out their own independence movements. Julie Daley's staging contrasts their free-associative chatter with more serious stories that betray, as Guare says, "anguish moved into anecdote." The tempered love story Something I'll Tell You Tuesday contrasts couples from different generations as they pretend that a mother's hospitalization is just another turning point. Director CeCe Klinger nicely meshes Jewish family comedy with the older lovers' wry survival strategies.

In the quirky The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year, playfully directed by Greg Werstler, Ashley Bishop and Thomas Jones charm as absurd Gothamites whose overactive imaginations compensate for the randomness of their romance. Finally, in the exhilarating Talking Dog, director Laura Kepley makes the most of Guare's vision of hang gliding as a metaphor for falling in love. Zak Brown plays the young suitor, who can declare his passion only when risking his life, and Krishna Salman his confused but resilient lover, while four smiling "gliders" inventively support the lovers as they tumble to earth.

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