Line | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Line 

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Line, Palio Productions, at the Heartland Studio Theater. Ideally, characters in plays never say the same thing twice--the words might be identical, but the message the person is trying to convey with those words is altered by a new idea or the responses of others. Then again, sometimes the playwright is just unimaginative.

The point of this early work by Israel Horovitz is standard-issue 1967 social criticism: five people--a Vietnam vet, blue-collar geezer, infantile husband and his flirtatious wife, and know-it-all youth--jockey for first place in a queue whose purpose is never identified. The variety of stratagems they employ paints a picture of an American society desperate for status and personal affirmation.

Horovitz's propensity for belaboring his ideas could have sunk this one-act, but the Palio ensemble, directed by Anthony Gaudio, give their stereotypical roles nuances that root even the most blatant redundancies in personality. For example, when each man dances with the sexually voracious matron, he picks his own music. The troupe also gives that lady's promiscuity a surprising agenda, and when the young man is threatened with physical violence, he takes a fresh stance. We end up as involved as the participants in this debut production.

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