Here at the End of a Century | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Here at the End of a Century 

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HERE AT THE END OF A CENTURY, Blue Star Performance Company, at the North Lakeside Cultural Center. This is only its second production, but the Blue Star Performance Company has already carved a bold niche for itself as one of Chicago's foremost practitioners of site-specific theater. Last year the group staged Caryl Churchill's complex Light Shining in Buckinghamshire in the assembly hall of an Episcopal church. Blue Star pushes the envelope even further with Here at the End of a Century, an ensemble-generated piece about two sisters.

The play works in part because the acting is every bit as gorgeous as the setting, a sparsely decorated Victorian mansion on the lakefront. The tightly knit cast--Barb Wruck Thomentz, Sean Sinitski, Kati Brazda, and Patrick Ney--consistently escalate the tension with their edgy, low-key performances. Each of the rooms in the ominous mansion presents a separate, volatile challenge to the characters. The downstairs sitting room, with photographs strewn all over the floor, seems a sacrificial altar of broken promises and discarded memories. The hazy sunset beckoning through vast bay windows in the upstairs parlor is emblematic of both the characters' desire to leave and their stubborn need to stay. Unfortunately the play's guided-tour format presents some practical problems in following the action from room to room. But nothing about Here at the End of a Century can be considered safe. And that in itself is an impressive feat. --Nick Green

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