The Unembarrassed Mind | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Unembarrassed Mind 

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THE UNEMBARRASSED MIND, Walkabout Theater Company, at the Storefront Theater. Juxtaposing the personal life of Queen Victoria with the lives of explorer Sir Richard Burton and his wife, Isabel, might have produced a commentary on the disconnect between Victorian attitudes and the period itself, well represented metaphorically by Burton's translation of the Kama Sutra. Or it might have examined how the proprieties prescribed for Victorian women distorted them, including the queen. Or it might have considered the analogy between geographic imperialism and the conquest of women's bodies and spirits.

But instead playwrights Loren Crawford and Stephan Mazurek offer a collage of static monologues based on undigested quotations from the subjects' journals. Topics recur but never resolve into a theme. Likewise, as director, Mazurek elicits performances with interesting elements but fails to integrate them. Sandy Borghum is charming as Victoria, never descending to caricature as she sketches the queen's development from dependent child to autonomous monarch to dependent wife to inconsolable widow. (Her performance benefits from a clever platform designed by Troy Lee Brasuell Jr.: an enormous figure of herself.) Winston Evans captures Burton's self-regard without conveying his gifts except by pronouncement ("I speak 44 languages!"), while Crawford's portrayal of Isabel amounts to little more than a pained expression. The evening seems a poorly executed excuse for showing shadow puppets having sex while the actors recite sections of the Kama Sutra.

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