Can't Quit You, Baby | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Can't Quit You, Baby 

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CAN'T QUIT YOU, BABY, City Lit Theater, at Victory Gardens Theater. City Lit is peddling a bill of goods in Can't Quit You, Baby, Mark Richard's momentum-free adaptation of Ellen Douglas's rambling, anecdotal novel. Set in Mississippi in the late 1960s, the story centers around two women: Cornelia, a wealthy white widow, and Tweet, her black housekeeper. Tweet--that sassy, blues-singing, white-folks-is-crazy stereotype the American theater can't seem to get enough of this decade--spends a good chunk of stage time spinning folksy yarns about her troubled upbringing, while Cornelia folds laundry, arranges flowers, kneads dough, and otherwise kills time.

Under Sandra Grand's spiritless direction, actors clump in awkward bunches and recite their lines without listening to one another. With the exception of Deborah Leydig, who finds some emotional veracity in her portrayal of Cornelia, this is an evening of big, empty, one-note performances. The entire affair is misguided by a narrator who reads her entire part from a spiral notebook, fumbling and dropping lines for two and a half hours. She, like everyone else in the cast, clearly doesn't know where she's headed or what story she's telling.

--Justin Hayford


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