Alchemy | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


ALCHEMY, Blue Rider Theatre. Katherine Ross's handsome multilevel set for this one-person show neatly displays every prop before the evening even begins: guitar, plant mister, portable radio, telescope, lipstick, cigarettes, telephone, bottle of booze, pieces of luggage. And such methodical overarticulation is the greatest weakness in Tekki Lomnicki's promising but underdeveloped piece. In only one of her four scenes does she seem comfortable enough with the character to allow for a bit of spontaneity. Then the results are magical, as doddering astronomer-nun Sister Mary Stella longs for a bit of mystery in a world indifferent to a moon mapped and demystified by NASA. This delightful, soul-stirring enigma recalls the medieval science that gives the show its title.

But in performing her other three characters--a recently crippled lesbian sculptor, a conscience-free talk-show host, and a neophyte country singer torn between her burgeoning career and a life-threatening pregnancy--Lomnicki proceeds with excessive caution, and the scenes are an awkward series of poses, gags, and empty transitions. While Sister Mary Stella's monologue conceals as much as it reveals, the others are generally schematic: to dramatize the sculptor's distress, for example, Lomnicki listens to voice-overs describing past traumas while burying her head in her hands--twice. As the sister suggests, theater without mystery can be a chore.

--Justin Hayford

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