Closing the Cafe | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Closing the Cafe 

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Closing the Cafe, Homegrown Productions, at Voltaire. Poor Will Partridge--it isn't enough he's been divorced three times; no sooner does he return home to help his brother persuade their mother to sell her roadside cafe but she tries to match him up with his childhood sweetheart. Further complicating matters is the fact that Will's sister-in-law, Lisa, is beginning to look mighty attractive.

Playwright Pauline Dessler has a knack for clever repartee, but where precious, lyrical lines sounded right coming from the mouths of Greek goddesses in her earlier Carpe Dream, they strike a jarring note in the realistic west Texas milieu of Closing the Cafe. The mundane setting also makes the machinations of the plot ludicrously transparent. Homegrown's young performers struggle valiantly to make Dessler's project believable, but only David Golan as the ambivalent Will manages to create a real human being out of his character. His sensitivity contrasts sharply with Darien Parker's Lisa, who speaks in a toneless whine that makes her passivity all the more exasperating.

Closing the Cafe, Dessler's second play and Homegrown's second production, is more noteworthy for its ambition than its execution. Their third attempt may be the pivotal one in evaluating this grassroots company's potential.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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