Shining Souls | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Shining Souls 

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SHINING SOULS, Dolphinback Theatre Company, at Live Bait Theater. Chris Hannan's Shining Souls, making its U.S. debut in this Dolphinback production, takes place on the day that lusty widow Ann has vowed to make up her mind which of her suitors--both named Billy--she'll marry. Her decision is postponed right up to the altar, as various denizens of this slackerly milieu, from Ann's witch-baby daughter to a street-corner Rasputin, offer their advice and assistance.

Derelict proletarians with cute accents being popular nowadays, ten Glasgow morons could, I suppose, be amusing in a droll sort of way. In the hands of most young theater companies, however, their antics would quickly degenerate into hyper-emotional fighting 'n' fucking. This makes KellyAnn Corcoran's direction all the more commendable: her cast ground themselves firmly in their characters' personalities, so that even in full-muster melees the zaniness is always coherent--and sometimes even charming. If we lose the narrative line from time to time, that's due solely to the regional dialect, which the actors reproduce with nearly unintelligible accuracy under the tutelage of Ian Christopher.

Though individuals here have their moments, the main pleasures of this production are its ensemble playing and its picture of a universe in which an oracle from heaven can sound awfully like Tom Jones singing the "Skye Boat Song." --Mary Shen Barnidge

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