Like Monkeys | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Like Monkeys 

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like Monkeys, Tinfish Theatre. This play begins like a conventional love story. And since the lovers are likable people, we hope for a conventional happy ending. But the theme of Nathan White's new play is the necessity of looking beyond preconceived ideas, and so his generous happy ending is far different, and happier, than the one we anticipate.

Shelly is a young woman disappointed by everyone in her life ("I don't even like my friends!" she complains). Her best buddy, George, advises her to abandon her expectations, but this isn't easily done. Then a mysterious stranger asks Shelly to take a vacation with him, initiating a series of discoveries that, four years later, results in our heroine and those she left behind all following their bliss with the courage and purpose that come of independence.

Though White's script never invites soggy self-pity, his instructions for spiritual liberation could still have disintegrated into maudlin sentiment if director Sierra Cleveland and her cast (in particular Kila Kitu as mentorly George, who gets the wittiest lines) didn't also approach the material straightforwardly. The actors' gravity lends depth to the sort of characters often presented as stock types. No word on whether this is White's first play, but if it's typical, we should look forward to his next one.

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