Evelyn Dances | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Evelyn Dances 

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Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, Lab Theater.

After premiering her one-woman play here three years ago, writer-performer Cindy Hanson brings this fully developed, moving piece, directed by Pam McDaniel, back to Chicago. Evelyn is a recent widow, a working-class Texan whose husband died young from a combination of alcohol and the boom/bust oil business. Hanson brings us through Evelyn's first evening as a widowed mother with the subtlety and grace of a practiced actress supported by a well-crafted play.

It's refreshing to see a character like Evelyn on the American stage, which tends to ignore working-class women or portray them as heroic martyrs or demonic, inbred, long-suffering matriarchs--which amounts to the same thing as ignoring them. Here a woman of depth and intelligence works in a supermarket and lives in a small town where she has a history and a home that reflects the best and worst of American ideology and economics.

Hanson's language is direct and compelling, creating a clear sense of Evelyn and her two children, who interrupt her monologue with their offstage bedtime squabbling and children's grief. The character's quirky sense of humor--she shocks the undertaker when she wonders aloud if the jumper cables being brought to the funeral are meant for her husband's resurrection--keeps the play from getting maudlin. And the slow, natural development of the story, its revelations and insights growing with our love for the storyteller, makes this show one of the few I've seen that merits its advance publicity. If you missed it before, go now.

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