Julie Johnson | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Julie Johnson 

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Julie Johnson, Bailiwick Repertory.

Somewhere in the middle of Wendy Hammond's humorless, overwritten, painfully predictable Julie Johnson is an interesting play. In fact, two or three of them. Unfortunately they've already been written.

The play begins like Educating Rita, with a working-class woman who returns to school and finds herself, under the tutelage of an eccentric (aren't they all?) academic. Halfway through the first act Hammond replaces Educating Rita with The Children's Hour, and Julie declares her love to her best friend, Claire, and then must confront the shocked responses of her family, friends, and Claire herself.

The strongest sections of the play deal directly with Julie and Claire's difficult relationship, but even these few scenes suffer from Hammond's tendency to say in six lines what could be said in two--a flaw only accentuated by Cecilie D. Keenan's uninspired direction and the competent but unamazing cast.

This tiresome work was featured as part of the 1994 Humana Festival of New American Plays, which speaks volumes about the decline of serious playwriting in this country.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Roger Lewin--Jennifer Girard Studio.

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