Born Yesterday | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Born Yesterday 

BORN YESTERDAY, Bog Theatre. This production of Garson Kanin's contemporary classic remains true to its 1940s setting and feeling, taking the audience straight to the heart of post-World War II Washington, D.C., where Kanin's archetypal characters fight for the meaning of democracy. In the play, the corrupt forces of big business, embodied by the swindling tycoon Harry Brock, battle the principles of freedom, personified in justice-seeking reporter Paul Verrall. At the center of their battle is Billie Dawn, a former chorus girl who's Brock's mistress: she discovers her own power through the Pygmalion-esque education Brock arranges for her with Verrall.

Kanin's larger-than-life characters provide the opportunity for three all-star portrayals, and happily Bog Theatre comes through. While director Daniel Scott's performance as Verrall doesn't quite heat up until the second act, Bradley Mott as Brock and Magica Bottari as the saucy, sincere Billie Dawn take the stage with full force, expressing the tension of their power-playing relationship in subtle gestures and looks--the way they play cards or glance at each other--that also re-create the feeling of the time.

Perhaps Scott should have chosen to either act or direct, since the production lags at crucial moments and some of the smaller parts are less believable. Fortunately, Joseph Wade's sumptuous set and Alicia Turner's stunning costumes maintain the show's integrity.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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