Fossils | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Fossils 

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Fossils, Victory Gardens Theater. Victory Gardens has carved out its own niche in theatrical realism: instead of kitchen-sink drama, it presents porch drama. (Why not save money and just leave that porch set standing?) The latest in the genre is a banal two-character summer romance, enlivened (if only slightly) by the fact that both characters are women. A lesbian romance! What will they think of next?

Fossils doesn't even rise to the level of soap opera but remains a sitcom, with every conflict between Abigail and Carrie neatly and swiftly resolved. Playwright Claudia Allen does have a knack for one-liners--Abbie recalls that her late husband enjoyed Masterpiece Theatre only "because he liked the class structure"--but her dialogue is weak ("You're much more sensitive than you let on"), and the play manages to be simultaneously predictable and unbelievable.

Julie Harris as Carrie, the feminine lesbian, and Ann Whitney as Abbie, the mannish straight, contrast wonderfully: Harris is tiny and vivid, Whitney stolid and wry. The actresses feel completely genuine (though Harris seemed to be losing focus in the second act--but weren't we all?). It's the play itself that's false. There would be an outcry if a straight playwright wrote about a gay man who became heterosexual simply by meeting the right woman, but apparently it's OK to suggest that straight women with unsatisfactory marriages and sensible shoes are just waiting to get in touch with their inner lesbian.

--Kelly Kleiman

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