Jump to Cow Heaven | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Jump to Cow Heaven 

Jump to Cow Heaven, Profiles Theatre. Gill Adams's play, set in 1966, is completely true to its period: accounts of misunderstood sociopaths were a staple of the 60s and 70s. But we've passed the historical moment for sympathy with the devil, so the true story of escaped British convict Frank Mitchell evokes impatience and disgust instead of pity and terror.

In Jump to Cow Heaven, receiving its U.S. premiere, Of Mice and Men meets Badlands: a killer on the run dotes on animals while occasionally squeezing them to death. He seeks sexual satisfaction from a faceless woman who incomprehensibly falls in love with him. Throw in a touch of A Streetcar Named Desire, as he seeks to expunge his sins through compulsive bathing, and you've got an evening in the theater that's scarcely audible over the clanging of its symbols.

Mitch Golob's staging, which features continual screaming and shouting, serves only to underline the play's monotony. Darrell W. Cox as the protagonist careens around the stage grunting and sweating while Sara Maddox and Joe Jahraus tremble and placate. It's not clear whether a less rambunctious production would have been better, but it would have spared the audience in Profiles' tiny space an intermissionless evening of cringing. A quieter version might also have allowed humor or pathos or both to slip through the weave of the overdetermined plot. But this version is a waste of the considerable acting talents invested in it.

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