Lion in the Streets | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Lion in the Streets 

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LION IN THE STREETS, Theo Ubique Theatre Company, at the Heartland Studio Theater. Canadian playwright Judith Thompson's dark, disturbing, lyrical 1990 play about remembrance and retribution gets a credible revival from Theo Ubique in Mark Vadik's solid staging. Jen Agan plays Isobel, a young Portuguese immigrant adrift in her urban Canadian neighborhood, trying to make contact with its shifting gallery of characters. Gradually understanding that she's a ghost and unable to return to her home, Isobel sets out to unravel the mysteries behind her neighbors' lives--and her own death.

The action shifts backward and forward in time, and the six ensemble members (all of whom, except Agan, play multiple roles) admirably commit to Thompson's sometimes grating histrionics. Jen Albert is particularly noteworthy as a domineering PTA mom ranting about the nefarious influence of jelly doughnuts on impressionable youth and as a rape victim recounting the attack to her cold, accusatory fiance (Arthur Simone). Ayanna Caldwell exhibits solid physical control and considerable guts in her portrayal of Scarlet, a young woman with cerebral palsy who relishes her anonymous sexual encounters with "the midnight man."

Though some of the episodes work better than others, and they don't really add up to a whole, Vadik and the actors strive to give these sad, flawed, questing if sometimes stereotypical characters humanity and grace, only occasionally lapsing into obvious choices.

--Kerry Reid

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