Evidence | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Evidence 

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EVIDENCE, Neo-Futurists, at the Neo-Futurarium. Writer-director Greg Allen's play is funny and terrifying in equal measure: it's as if Edward Albee had thoroughly fused his trademark banter and covert violence. But where Albee explores his characters' fictional worlds, Allen incorporates testimony from actual court cases to raise the question: what are you guilty of? The setup is simplicity itself: two people sit on opposite sides of the stage, one in spotlight while the other's in darkness, being interrogated for 75 intermissionless minutes by the Inquisitor (a brilliant Tim Klein). He quizzes Emily (Emily Albright) and Tim (Tim Hanna) about their identities, their affiliations ("You don't work with Mohammed Al Benzene?"), and ultimately their loyalties--not only to the nation and each other but to themselves.

Evidence is really two plays, and which one you experience depends on your own psyche. As a work about the malleability of reality under pressure, it's both funny and absurd, as when the Inquisitor considers the phrase "the cat's pajamas": "Maybe flannel cowboy pajamas? With a cowboy hat stapled to its head?" People who saw this play laughed a lot, if nervously. Meanwhile I saw something like Kafka's The Trial--detailing the terror and despair that result when one's words are discounted or one's existence is denied--and hardly breathed, much less laughed. This duality is what gives Evidence its edge: without being pedantic, Allen makes clear that what's happening at Guantanamo Bay could happen to any of us.

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