My Name is Rachel Corrie shows that tragic source material doesn't make great drama | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

My Name is Rachel Corrie shows that tragic source material doesn't make great drama 

Sitting through this play is like spending an hour and a half with a Greenpeace volunteer on the street.

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Zeke Dolezalek

The Jacaranda Collective's inaugural production is a one-woman dramatization of the notes and journal entries of Rachel Corrie, the young American woman killed by a bulldozer as she tried to prevent the leveling of a Palestinian home by Israeli forces. Adapted to the stage by actor Alan Rickman and journalist Katherine Viner, it's meant to be a provocative salvo from a brand-new theater company. But fraught, tragic source material doesn't necessarily equal great drama.

Imagine spending an hour and a half with one of those enthusiastic Greenpeace volunteers who buttonhole people on the street and you'll have some sense of what it's like to sit through this play. In between harangues about international politics—which, like many twenty-somethings, Corrie takes herself to be an expert on—we are treated to a litany of the hopes and dreams of a very average young woman from the Pacific Northwest who wants desperately for her life to have some special purpose.

Halie Robinson does all she can to make Corrie come to life, but other than her horrible death—which one can read about elsewhere and obviously isn't a first-person account—there's just not much there. If Corrie is the sum of these journal entries, she's not someone I would've been interested to spend time with. That's not a judgment on her cause or doubt about her good intentions. Not all lives that end tragically merit a 90-minute play. Directed by Sam Bianchini.   v

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