A Summer's Day | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

A Summer's Day 

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A SUMMER'S DAY, Eclipse Theatre Company. In the abstract love triangle A Summer's Day, Polish playwright Slawomir Mrozek takes competition to its most philosophical level. Sux and Unsux, two rivals, have unlike natures so absolute that each seems the distillation of psychological self-torture: one embodies naive hope in the face of constant failure, while the other exhibits cynical ennui in the face of too much success. The two men first compete over whose life is the worst, then over the affections of a manipulative, self-interested woman who interrupts their suicide attempts to become their mutual obsession.

The rising tension of the competition and the rational absurdity of the dialogue blend into a dreamlike intellectual buzz that's almost trance inducing. At odds with this heady tone are Eclipse Theatre Company's naturalistic performances: flashes of human emotion make the blandly violent resolution into a moral statement about the failure of compassion. Though skillfully performed, the play has an effect more disembodied than absurdist--it's as if Eclipse has staged an elaborate intellectual joke. A Summer's Day is intriguing but icy, a chill briefly felt and then forgotten.

--Carol Burbank


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