Being at Home With Claude | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Being at Home With Claude 

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Journeymen, at Cafe Voltaire.

Burrowing beneath the tabloid trappings, Quebec dramatist Rene Daniel Debois probes the tortured psyche of a male hustler who's just killed the one john he loved. What results is a taut psychological mystery that, sadly, rhapsodizes over a hoary theme--you always hurt the one you love, a cliche that O.J. may have spoiled for good.

Framed as a heated interrogation of the murderer, Yves, by a hostile Montreal detective who means to find the truth, Debois' 90-minute work effectively raises the tension, though sometimes it relies on sensationalistic padding. One subplot-- Yves blackmails a judge (a former trick) in order to get press exposure for his crime--turns out to be a red herring, for example. The real story (arrived at only after the actors have poisoned the air with cigarettes) is closer to Jeffrey Dahmer than Romeo and Juliet: Yves wanted to preserve the feeling of "being at home" that Claude, a handsome 22-year-old student, could give him. Rather than send him out to "spend the rest of his life in shit," he stabbed Claude to death--really intending, he tells us, to kill himself. (Only later does Yves discover that, even though Claude filled his journal with ecstatic entries about his "brother" Yves, he had a girlfriend.)

Despite Debois' romanticization of violence, his torn-up killer provides a telling look at a hustler's twisted take on love. Despite forced blocking (way too much pacing around the stage) and sporadic over-the-top emoting from Chad Krueger as Yves and John Guzzardo as the inspector, that anguish is what fuels Frank Pullen's pile-driving staging. Fortunately, Yves' love makes much more sense than Claude's murder.

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