Servicemen | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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Servicemen, Bailiwick Repertory. Evan Smith's drama, set during World War II, jumps from sarcastic to sentimental in 90 minutes. A brittle socialite aptly named Cyn (Cate Mannion) lives in Manhattan with the handsome--and gay--layabout Gray (Thad Anzur). Cyn is married, but her unseen husband is stationed in Hawaii, and her daughter (a solid Lauren Sowa) is in a Maine boarding school. These two bored companions are so insouciant that during blackouts they leave their curtains open and the lights on. They spend their time flirting, bickering, and trawling for young servicemen about to be shipped overseas. If their prey is straight, Cyn gets him--if he's gay, Gray takes him home for the night.

The story revolves around one such catch: the naive Si (Jason Palmer), who declares his love for Gray after their one-night stand. Gray is derisive, but later he talks himself into the idea that he might have been in love too. Taking a turn toward the maudlin, the script falls apart--and it isn't helped by Jeff Jones's plodding direction. The wit is sharp, but the final effect is cloying. In our current state of almost-war, the idea that it's noble to sacrifice oneself in battle for a lover just might make theatergoers sick.

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