Raised in Captivity loses its way amid excessive subplots | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Raised in Captivity loses its way amid excessive subplots 

And, like many family gatherings, it lasts way too long.

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Lindsay Wililams

The Right Brain Project presents Nicky Silver's sprawling 1995 tragicomedy about twin siblings trying to make peace with their past and with each other. Sebastian (Joel Collins) and Bernadette (Hannah Williams) meet at the cemetery after their mother's untimely and bizarre death. They have been out of touch and are virtual strangers, but each is burdened by a host of unresolved traumas and resentments. For starters, he's emotionally crippled after his lover's death from AIDS 11 years prior, while she's trapped in an unfulfilling marriage and has no discernible purpose in life.

There are moments of depth and dark laughter scattered throughout this two-and-a-half-hour play, but their impact is blunted repeatedly by supporting characters who hog too much precious stage time. Bernadette's husband (Tyler Esselman) and Sebastian's shrink (Liz Goodson) are given full-fledged story lines that could anchor their own plays; both are by turns buffoonish and grotesque distractions from the siblings. A convicted murderer and a violent street hustler (both played by Vic Kuligoski) serve to illustrate Sebastian's isolation but could've been pared down as well. On the other hand, their mother, Miranda, as played by Laura Jones Macknin, is the emotional center of the entire piece in her sole scene.

Silver comes up with a satisfying conclusion in which brother and sister are left to each other to resurrect their broken lives, but I wish we'd had more time with them rather than having to listen to a bunch of other people's problems. Kathi Kaity directed.   v


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