The Light Keepers | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Light Keepers 

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THE LIGHT KEEPERS, Bailiwick Repertory. Rebecca Ranson's romantic drama tells the stylized, sentimental story of two Victorian women who make a love nest out of a Lake Michigan lighthouse. The setting, with its isolation and heroic sense of vulnerability, simultaneously tests and protects the two women as they grow into a seemingly perfect partnership, the kind of theatrical love that both challenges our modern cynicism and stirs secret fantasies of charmed relationships. The spirited hopefulness of the play, part of Bailiwick's Pride '97 series, may surprise audiences accustomed to the hypersexualized theater of identity politics in the age of AIDS.

The heart of The Light Keepers is the romance between Harriet Colfax and Ann Hartwell, played with disarmingly open sweetness by Diane Honeyman and Paula Line. But the love and support between "invert" (an old name for homosexual) siblings Harriet and Julian are what give the work resonance. As Julian, Derek T. Bell is attentive and sweet to the two women, serving as their link to the outside world. And through his offstage story, Ranson extends the play's political reach. Director Lindsay Porter stages the romance with respectful restraint and an emphasis on the characters' eccentricity, a decision that makes for a gently seductive evening.

--Carol Burbank


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