Show and Tell | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Show and Tell 

Show and Tell, Circle Theatre. When a teacher leading a show-and-tell session leaves the room for a moment, an explosion obliterates her entire fourth-grade class. Investigators and family members converge to piece together an explanation from scattered bits of evidence--pink tennis shoes with the feet still in them, a little thighbone blown through a wall. How did it happen? Why would God annihilate children? Why did only the teacher survive? Anthony Clarvoe's intense drama covers the gamut of posttraumatic responses, from the parents' helpless anger, denial, and drunken grief to the forensic specialists' sick humor and other coping mechanisms. (As one puts it, "If you start feeling this one, kiddo, you're gonna be gone, gone, gone.")

I would never have guessed that this production was part of Circle Theatre's Underground Series, a mentoring program for new directors, designers, and performers. True, this ambitious piece doesn't hit the emotional mark every time--there are plenty of reminders that we're watching actors recite lines. However, thanks to promising work by director Brett Kashanitz and the cast (particularly Niki Williams as the teacher, Joe Gordon as the lead inspector, and Marie Goodkin, doubling as a punctilious specialist and an incredulous grandmother), we can't help but feel the impact of some moments--for example, Gordon pacing the room recording body-part sightings with Williams following behind, matching the parts to her students.

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