Anna Weiss | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Anna Weiss 

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ANNA WEISS, Dolphinback Theatre Company, at TinFish Theatre. Scottish playwright Mike Cullen--who also wrote the coal-mining thriller The Cut, now playing at A Red Orchid--seems to specialize in plays requiring the sort of eerie crimson glow that illuminates implausible revelations. Apparently aiming to write the Oleanna of recovered memory in this study of a young woman's supposed recollections of sexual abuse by her father, Cullen uses topical, potentially riveting material, but his mechanically confrontational approach makes David Mamet's strident sexual politics seem a model of complexity and restraint.

Lynn, the 20-year-old apparent victim; her father, David, whose life has been ruined by her allegations; and Anna Weiss, the manipulative therapist, are ambiguously drawn ciphers demonstrating the unreliability of memory. Although every revelation in the play could have come from today's headlines, Cullen's phony script shortchanges the gravity of the issues: spurts of dialogue rise to an angry climax, then settle into a contemplative denouement and improbably theatrical monologues.

Dolphinback's vaguely defined yet shrill production--treating every outburst of profanity as if it were capitalized in boldface--makes the play even more ambiguous and melodramatic. On a minimally designed yet cluttered set, time, place, and even Anna and Lynn's relationship remain so sketchy that all we have is a progression of stiffly performed unresolved conflicts. --Adam Langer

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