Authenticity Killed the Cat | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Authenticity Killed the Cat 

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Authenticity Killed The Cat, FluxWorks Theater Company, at Second City, Donny's Skybox Studio. The seven short plays by four writers in this collection all seem to revolve around the themes of love, lust, and loss. And all bear the unmistakable stamp of young adulthood: the characters' fundamental inability to break patterns of self-destructive behavior. If anything, "Authenticity Killed the Cat" is about grand, even foolhardy optimism in the face of serious challenges, a naive sort of perspective that seems to be rectified with age. But it isn't the plays' subject matter that ultimately unhinges this production; in fact, these seven one-acts offer a rather insightful summation of the throes of youth. The problems lie in the individual plays' mechanics and structure.

Take The Big Questions, for example: though playwright Ben Winters is adept at establishing a consistent tone and mood, his thoughtful piece is hampered by a tacked-on ending that makes the play seem irresolute. The same can be said of Kerry Mulvaney's Petsmart, a fairly straightforward two-person character study that's interesting enough to have been extended to two or three times its length: ten minutes may seem like an eternity onstage, but it's rarely long enough to create a complete, coherent piece of theater. Only Ginna Hoben's Scrambled qualifies as a full-fledged work, and even it lacks full character development.

It's usually wordiness that's the problem among young playwrights, but it seems these four haven't let themselves run off at the mouth enough.

--Nick Green


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