Body & Soul | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Body & Soul 

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Body & Soul, Head Lemming Theatre Company, at A Red Orchid Theater. John Mighton's entertaining but sketchy, undeveloped script typifies the problems with contemporary playwriting. He takes a handful of mildly controversial social topics--the collapse of the institution of marriage, the glorification of self-appointed expert/gurus, sexual fetishization--and combines them with thinly drawn oddball types (Jane, the lead character, is a necrophiliac mortician) to create a series of punchy, occasionally fascinating scenes that rarely go anywhere, least of all into emotional complication. It seems Mighton wants to critique the way our culture confuses libidinal liberation with dehumanizing objectification, but rather than digging in his heels and developing his characters he skips from topic to topic and scene to scene like a late-night channel surfer, hoping to find enough flash to keep his audience awake and titillated. Body & Soul ends up feeling like an hour-long preview for the promising play Mighton didn't get around to writing.

The six members of Head Lemming's cast admirably overcome the inelegant direction of Tom Zanarini, who apparently insisted that they schlepp the same three pieces of furniture on- or offstage between scenes half a dozen times--they spend a good part of the play stumbling around in the dark. Sydney Moore, Head Lemming's artistic director, turns in an exquisite performance as Jane, giving her a paradoxical lecherous innocence. The depth of her characterization and her precise delivery give her scenes the kind of immediacy that would have brought a better-constructed play to life.

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