Looking For a Good Thing | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Looking For a Good Thing 

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Looking For a Good Thing, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Despite a push for individual freedom and even license in the 60s and 70s, there's still a certain kind of man who moves blissfully and unquestioningly from his mother's care to that of his wife. But if she dies after a long and happy marriage, such a man often finds himself ill equipped to deal with the world, where his brand of doglike devotion has grown painfully rare and predatory women are not above old-fashioned trickery.

The clueless middle-aged male is usually the stuff of farce, but Von H. Washington's articulate, remarkably uncluttered script acknowledges his serious difficulties in a culture that jeers at commitment, responsibility, and marital fidelity. And Chuck Smith's intelligent ETA Creative Arts Foundation staging emphasizes the play's mature, insightful vision. Dale K. Benton is a couple of decades too young to convey the gravity appropriate to the naive widower, coming off more like a nerdy adolescent than a bashful midlifer, but fine support is provided by Bridgett Williams, Libya Pugh, and Joan Ruffin as the women of three generations who educate him. With its single-issue focus and complex characters, Looking for a Good Thing offers a welcome respite from the sitcom approach to social problems that's dominated the ETA repertoire of late. --Mary Shen Barnidge

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