The Aggressor | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Aggressor 

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The Aggressor, Theo Ubique Theatre Company and Overland Stage Company, at the Heartland Studio Theater. Watching the first act of this comedy-drama is like eavesdropping on a boring first date. The second is like eavesdropping on the same date at a bondage parlor. Together they compose a full evening that essentially recapitulates the announcement "Please turn off all cell phones and pagers." Playwright Tommy Lee Beaver sets up a situation--female journalist interviews male writer whose Web-borne objections to technology attracted her attention--without either characters or conflict. Instead Neil (played by Beaver himself, an engaging actor) spouts conservative tropes about how communications devices destroy communication ("Supreme access corrupts absolutely") while Vanessa (Heather McGrail) alternately volunteers and demands personal revelations that go nowhere. Despite the lack of sexual energy between them, their conversation leads to a sleep-over involving a whip and dog collar. There's no intellectual exchange either, yet their encounter gives Neil enough ideas to fill another Web site.

The two acts may be connected by the thought that while technology eliminates one's sense of control, that sense can be restored by tying someone to a chair--a notion that was already hoary (sorry) when the Marquis de Sade elaborated on it in the 18th century. Unless you share Theo Ubique's fascination with sexual sadism (I've seen only two of its productions, and both involved bondage), stay home and connect some other way: surf the Web, maybe, or talk on the phone.

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