Arabesqu | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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Arabesque, Greta Mae Productions, at Stage Left Theatre. Impish writer-performers Erica Reid and Rebecca Rine demonstrate a great sense of structure in their rapid-fire series of brief sketches. Starting with a dozen or so seemingly random concepts--Pottery Barn for Kids (a catalog selling children that match your decor), closet lesbian housewives, a cattle slaughter set to Busby Berkeley-like music, female family conflicts--Reid and Rine gradually weave a story that covers multiple generations and gets tied into a sweet little package at the end. They stay tuned to each other and the comic moment, and Jessica Marie Gonyea's efficient set and costume designs allow scenes and characters to change with the addition of a chair or removal of a skirt.

However, the slick framework and lively pace can't disguise script fluff and shallow acting. Every character, regardless of age or intellectual depth, comes across as a cute, frenetic twentysomething. A little research would help too: when writing a sketch about a lawyer's job interview, find out what a firm might actually ask and what an intelligent applicant might say. Would a 1950s housewife and 21st-century schoolteacher walk the same way? Not likely. Reid and Rine have uncanny radar for comic situations (and a knack for eavesdropping, so watch out for them at Starbucks). Now they need to slow down and develop some details and depth.

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