Life and Limb | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Life and Limb 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

LIFE AND LIMB, Swing for the Fences Productions, at Stage Left Theatre. It's a miserable life trapped in Keith Reddin's Eisenhower-era parable of the American nightmare. Franklin Roosevelt Clagg returns from the Korean War minus an arm to watch his life fall apart. Hoping to buy a TV for his ignorant/innocent wife, Effie, Franklin settles for a job in an artificial-limb factory run by a sadistic army colleague. Husband and wife die pointlessly and end up in hell--another consumer wasteland.

Even if Reddin means to mock the American obsession with defining yourself by what you own, watching losers lose is a chump's game. Director Kurt Naebig's realistic treatment makes the play's mean-spirited overkill and quirky characterizations seem even more gratuitous and heavy-handed. But thanks to Johnny Clark's solid Franklin and Alexis Gladd's clueless but loyal Effie, this bleak love story comes to a kind of life, however dismal. Molly Glynn Hammond has imperious fun as Effie's dour Romanian confidant, but Daren Flam's odious prosthetics entrepreneur is by-the-numbers nasty.

What's missing from the playing as well as the writing is anger at the rotten deal that Franklin and Effie get--and, worse, expect. As a result their (mostly) mute suffering never inspires relief that we're not them or pity that so much misery teaches them so little.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Lawrence Bommer

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Twice, Thrice, Frice... Silk Road Rising
October 01
Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories