Still Life With Blue Roses | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Still Life With Blue Roses 

Usually when theater people announce they're leaving Chicago, they go. Not Paula Killen. And while she's hanging around, she works like crazy, putting on her own one-woman show (Niagara Falls: Straight to the Top), appearing in a play at the Goodman (A Pirate's Lullaby), and performing as part of the Sex Talk series at the Mercury Theater. I wish I'd caught some of these shows now that I've seen her latest, Still Life With Blue Roses. I've never seen Killen's work stronger, her performance more focused and affecting, her writing clearer and more confident than they are in this sly one-person sequel to Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, set several years after its close and told from Laura's point of view. This gives Killen plenty of room, both to perform some of Williams's most beautiful passages--which she does with finesse--and to make witty conjectures about what happens to the Wingfields. Laura, for example, becomes the kept woman of her erstwhile gentleman caller, while Tom eventually returns from the merchant marine to spend his time, not unlike Laura in the original, dreaming his life away. Billed as a work in progress, Still Life Wth Blue Roses still has a few glitches--notably distracting, unnecessary voice-overs--but these are minor irritations in a work that makes me hope Killen keeps extending her long good-bye. Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln, 327-6666. Through June 22: Saturdays, 8 PM. $8, or pay what you can.

--Jack Helbig

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