Halcyon Days | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Halcyon Days 

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Halcyon Days, TimeLine Theatre Company. For the better part of two hours, playwright Steven Dietz drives home the point that the Reagan administration used hyperbolic spin and outright lies to justify its brutal, nonsensical invasion of Grenada in 1983. And as in most of his other work, Dietz seems to see his characters--a self-serving senator, a morally atrophied speechwriter, a maniacally cynical White House staffer, a wise Grenadan native--only from a distance, which leads to broad, schematic satire. An audience need never wonder where its sympathies should lie because these folks are usually either all good or all bad. But Dietz's farcical entertainment comes at the cost of real analysis; when all is said and done, he delivers little beyond smug finger-pointing.

Director William Brown has worked a small miracle, however, transforming this facile parody into a tolerable evening of theater. Despite Dietz's insistence on changing scene locations every few minutes--apparently we need to watch senators playing racquetball every now and then--Brown keeps the action focused and flowing. The cast is uneven, but David Parkes turns in a sparklingly bland performance as a charisma-free senator hoping to enhance his political profile by hitching his wagon to the invasion. And P.J. Powers brings such self-righteous amorality to the role of White House chief Raper that the play achieves moments of real truth.

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