The Junkie of Lincoln Park | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Junkie of Lincoln Park 

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THE JUNKIE OF LINCOLN PARK, Beatnik Theatre, at Cafe Voltaire. Hand-me-down inspirations are like hand-me-down clothes: they might fit here and there, but they're always unmistakably somebody else's. Patrick Ney's The Junkie of Lincoln Park has the same real estate jargon, cynical sales personnel, and career-threatening contest as its obvious prototype, David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross. But a Chicago apartment-finder service staffed with energetic young lions has none of that play's high-stakes glamour or intricate resonances; this work is a simplistic fable of a Goody Two-shoes learning to fight as dirty as her hoggish colleagues do.

This exercise, "developed through improvisation," probably started as a passable 5-minute sketch, but stretching it to 45 minutes renders its thin material all but transparent. Its improv-comedy roots show in the form of stuttering starts and cue jumping less reflective of Mametian dialogue than of the actors' unfamiliarity with the script. The one salty-mouthed character is strictly playground league: real cussing is music as well as words. And the conflict in this penny-ante universe is resolved by a pair of juvenile pranks and a punch line any playwright, much less Mamet, would have rejected even as a throwaway.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with wearing big brother's clothes, but The Junkie of Lincoln Park needs much more tailoring before Beatnik Theatre can call the play its own and wear it with pride.

--Mary Shen Barnidge


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