As Bees in Honey Drown | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

As Bees in Honey Drown 

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AS BEES IN HONEY DROWN, Cenacle Theatre Company, at Pilsen Theatre. If you believe Douglas Carter Beane's cautionary comedy, the wish to be famous haunts all Gothamites. Gay and gifted, Evan Wyler is a New York dreamer who covets a life on the right side of the velvet ropes. This unformed but talented young man falls--hard--for the self-invented Alexa Vere de Vere, a simulated socialite who incarnates the fantasy of "fame without achievement." Hiding her humble Pennsylvania origins, Alexa affects a high-class mumble, drops names--and fleeces the credulous novelist as she seduces him into writing a screenplay based on her fabulous but bogus life.

It's a shame that Beane won't let us enjoy Evan's comeuppance or revenge on Alexa. Deaf to any stimulus but the siren song of success, young Evan is merely an object lesson. It doesn't help that, however lovely in faux pearls and Jackie Kennedy black, Sara Laudonia is too young and too transparent as Alexa. Chad Ortis's infatuation with this blatant grifter seems an act of faith.

Like Gary Griffin, who directed the play's Northlight Theatre local debut last year, director David Hart Waggoner must cope with a script that's too New York for Chicago. (Six Degrees of Separation, also set in Manhattan, tackles the same issues without ignoring race or class.) Midwesterners have little stomach for scam artists, see-through or not.

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