Cannibals | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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CANNIBALS, Naked Eye Theatre Company, at A Red Orchid Theatre. Michael Rockefeller, Nelson Rockefeller's son and heir, eschewed his family's power and glory to live in New Guinea and study headhunters. He would have made an excellent subject for a play even if he hadn't disappeared in the field in 1961.

But you wouldn't know it from Timothy Mason's trio of one-acts. The best of them, "The Factotum," is a moving, subtle little piece--considerably enhanced by Tom Carroll's strong performance--about Michael's strained relationship with his father, reflected in a short conversation with his father's longtime personal secretary.

The other two pieces aren't nearly as focused or insightful. The disjointed "Two-Part Invention," about a fictional meeting in the 80s in the jungles of New Guinea between a young anthropologist and a middle-aged man who might be Michael Rockefeller, takes way too long to make its silly point: that Rockefeller could be alive and well and living with headhunters. "The Quick and the Dead" is even worse, a shallow, pretentious bit of yuppie angst that ends as a glib meditation on AIDS. And naturally the acting in the two weaker one-acts falls apart: under the inexpert direction of Jeremy B. Cohen, Carroll and Erik Lochtefeld deliver the kind of wobbly performances actors can only hope will soon be forgotten.

--Jack Helbig

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