The Sparrow | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Sparrow 

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Because adolescence is such an emotionally charged time, high school is a resonant setting for stories about people with magic powers. This play by Chris Mathews, Jake Minton, and Nathan Allen is a postmodern bricolage of elements lifted from films, comic books, TV shows, and young adult novels in which a gifted person is also unhappy and flawed and has a tragic past. Freaky teenager Emily Book can fly like Supergirl and impose telekinetic destruction worthy of Carrie. But her sweet, moving, mildly melodramatic story is neither Stephen King-style Grand Guignol nor standard superhero fare. Instead Emily suffers through all the usual geeky new-girl traumas, then slowly reveals her superpowers. Somehow the writers, director Allen, and an enthusiastic ensemble make it work and even seem fresh. Carolyn Defrin as the droopy Emily is the epitome of adolescence at its worst. And the House Theatre of Chicago production contains plenty of the company's trademark physicalized scenes, including a marvelous five-minute sequence that spells out all the relationships at Emily's school. a Through 2/24: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM, Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western, 773-251-2195, $10-$22.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.

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