Spike Heels | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Spike Heels 

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Spike Heels, Ubiquitous Theatre Company, at Cafe Voltaire. For its inaugural production the Ubiquitous Theatre Company has chosen Theresa Rebeck's urban comedy about male-female power dynamics and sexual relations in the 90s. Rebeck's two-act script is sometimes very clever, full of sharp dialogue and charged encounters between potential and former lovers. But certain scenes repeat the same information tirelessly.

Rebeck has created four characters who intentionally skirt the line of stereotypes: Andrew is a nerdy, idealistic professor; Georgie a waitress-turned-secretary playing Eliza Doolittle to Andrew's Professor Higgins; Edward is Andrew's slimy yet endearing lawyer friend; and Lydia is Andrew's old-money Bostonian fiancee. But at times they cross the line, becoming the stereotypes Rebeck seeks to mock. It takes strong actors to play such a comic edge without turning the material into laugh-track stuff, and unfortunately not everyone in this ensemble has the presence or depth to do it. As the characters wage their battles over the course of an intermissionless show, they must be real enough to earn our sympathy.

However, the main problem with this production is its lack of shape, pacing, and focus. The program credits the ensemble with direction (with "assistance" from Gretchen Sonstroem), but the production needs a more perceptive outside eye: the actors have energy and ambition, but the show doesn't keep up. Still, Spike Heels has moments of genuine humor and affection, offering hope that in time Ubiquitous will grow stronger.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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More by Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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