In One Room | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

In One Room 

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In One Room, Bailiwick Repertory. Young people's observations generally make up in freshness what they lack in sophistication. But the high school- and college-age characters in Jimmy Maize's docudrama about queer youth all seem to be reciting from the same tired phrase book. Maybe the national conversation about what it means to come out has gone on long enough to produce a set of tropes that people automatically use. More likely, the reason the voices of gay adolescents from Chicago, Seattle, and semirural Georgia can barely be distinguished is Maize's failure as an interviewer. Either he couldn't dig beneath the "I gotta be me" cliches to find individual experiences, or his subjects said bright and original things, and he edited them into featureless orthodoxy. "When I hear the word 'queer' I think about reclaiming," says one character, though very few children of the 21st century organize their thinking around 1950s connotations of a word. Director Lee Peters gives the production a brisk pace and no frills, relying on the charm and genuineness of the actors. Erez Shek is particularly fine, with good support from Sadie Rogers and Andre Ing; the others fail to enunciate, making an inarticulate script verge on the incomprehensible. The result is a painless if utterly forgettable evening.

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