Sounds of Silents (The Essanay Years) | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Sounds of Silents (The Essanay Years) 

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That Chicago was an early center for the film industry is a fun fact to know and tell, but not in itself a plot for a play. Paul Peditto proves as much in the long first half of Sounds of Silents, which supplies loads of lore and no momentum at all. It isn't until Charlie Chaplin (a smooth Anthony Tournis) shows up after intermission--to rumble over art and money with his Rogers Park-based bosses--that we get a narrative. The early passages aren't without attractions: Kirsten D'Aurelio projects wise-guy charm as Beverly Baynes, and Sarah Weis endears as a teenaged Gloria Swanson (though failing to show us how Swanson could have married a gorilla like Wallace Beery). Nevertheless, act one remains a drag. --Tony Adler a Through 2/25: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, 773-539-7838, $20.

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