Hurricane | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


HURRICANE, Famous Door Theatre Company. According to the program, Erin Cressida Wilson is "an internationally produced and award-winning playwright" with 15 plays under her belt, cool gigs to keep her busy--playwright's residency at the Sundance Institute, a novel adaptation in the works for Andre Gregory, a play under commission from Playwrights Horizons--and a really great straight job as "professor of Playwriting at Duke University." Which may explain why Famous Door and the show's director--Steppenwolf's new-play maven, Anna Shapiro--jumped at the chance to produce Hurricane.

But sitting through even ten minutes of this endless hour-and-a-half one-act should cure anyone of the notion that great credentials mean great playwriting. Having summoned up nine interesting characters--among them a bitchy drag queen, a fading runway model, a political American poet rotting in a third-world prison, a former IV-drug user dying of AIDS, a victim of nuclear testing--Wilson doesn't have a clue how to weave them into an interesting, coherent story.

So she doesn't. Instead she presents us with a series of unrelated "duets" in which she skims the surface of things, scoring a few PC points here, ever so gently mocking PC-ness there. Just when you think she's finally going to tell you something surprising, or at least tie the fragments together, she ends the play and runs off to her next project. Despite their best efforts, there's nothing director Shapiro or her cast of nine fine actors can do to make this naked empress look clothed.

--Jack Helbig

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