Imagining Brad, and Ledge, Ledger, and the Legend | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Imagining Brad, and Ledge, Ledger, and the Legend 

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Imagining Brad, Wing & Groove Theatre, and Ledge, Ledger and the Legend, Wing & Groove Theatre. This double feature offers a megadose of comfort for people needing to know there are others out there more pathetic than they. Imagining Brad depicts a quickly developing friendship between two women comparing stories about their very different marriages. As in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, the screenplay that made Peter Hedges famous, he presents a situation so freakish that it takes several minutes to grasp. It sounds more reasonable, though, as it's recounted by Brad's soft-spoken, sincere wife, who stops blabbermouth Dana Sue Kay dead in her pink satin sling-backed tracks.

Despite the characters' oil-and-water differences, Autumn Lakosky-Drexler as Brad's wife and Amy Tourne as Dana Sue Kay blend marvelously. Tourne occasionally trips over her 90-mile-an-hour monologues but usually navigates every twist and pause with the instincts of a NASCAR champion. Aside from one scene of impossibly off-key country music and shadowy sexual suggestion that takes "gratuitous" to a whole new level, this quirky snippet showcases Wing & Groove's daring and intelligence.

As for Ledge, Ledger and the Legend, hmmm...not so much. Paul Elliott's play is more accurately an overextended skit about two competing consultants battling not to keep a desperate man from hurling himself to his death but to manage publicity for the event. It's a premise that allows for a healthy skewering of the sales profession and our preoccupation with image. And the contrast between the two "professionals"--Jay Diehl as a wheedling nebbish and Chris Genebach as an operator smooth as his black silk shirt--could have made for some witty sparring.

The three actors squeeze as much humor out as they can, but Elliott's bland, repetitive dialogue just doesn't support the story or the characters very well. And there's no reference to a legend, so what's that about? The show lasts only 40 minutes, but halfway through I wanted the guy (Ben Veatch) to jump. Not for any kind of voyeuristic thrill--just so the evening would end. At least it made my life look darn good by comparison.

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