Suburbia | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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Suburbia, Circle Theatre. The coffin lid has barely been nailed shut on the Clinton administration, and Eric Bogosian's exposé of fear and loathing in strip-mall America already feels thoroughly dated. Perhaps that's SubUrbia's ultimate destiny: to be another memorial, sandwiched between tattered images of Kurt Cobain and Nintendo in the 90s scrapbook. There's no question that Bogosian is an astute cultural critic, and perhaps he's also sharp enough to realize that his plays are every bit as disposable as the trends he delights in skewering. Maybe that's what he intended all along: to create a visceral script that would raise eyebrows upon its arrival--as it did when Roadworks presented its Chicago premiere in 1995--and die quickly. After all, that's the rock 'n' roll credo: live fast and die young.

Jay Fontanetta's staging of SubUrbia for Circle Theatre in Forest Park dwells too much on surface textures; it's smart to place all the script's dark one-liners and double entendres center stage, but not its profanity. And Fontanetta misses what seems a plum opportunity: exploring the irony of producing a play about how much the suburbs suck on a suburban stage, where Bogosian's acid-laced dialogue might resonate on a deeper level. Still, great performances abound--especially Kerby Joe Grubb's alcoholic sociopath Tim--and the cast work overtime to push their characters to hedonistic extremes.

--Nick Green


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