This Side of Angels | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

This Side of Angels 

This Side of Angels, Breadline Theatre. Ever since Tony Kushner's Angels in America was enshrined as a classic of American theater, playwrights have decided that angels can be a highbrow subject. Unfortunately, damn few of them possess the biting wit and political acumen that make Kushner's work so memorable.

Paul Kampf is the latest local writer to hop on the seraphim bandwagon. Jason (Jeremy Shouldis), the only survivor of a plane crash, had encounters with the heavenly host before being miraculously revived; these left him doubting, fearful, and apparently a magnet for every manner of human suffering, at least in his own self-important mind. He abandons his pregnant wife, Linda (Heather Carpenter), to travel the world and give away money. Then he returns to his hometown, takes some dingy rooms in a lodging house run by a warmhearted eastern European (Alzan Pelesic), and begins performing miracles. A subplot about his late father (Larry Orr), who died trying to save a boy from being beaten, intersects with the history of a raving street dweller (Warren Jackson) who challenges Jason's healing powers.

This could have been an interesting twist, but Kampf's script repeats itself so often over two and a half hours that it becomes impossible to distinguish what's really important from the padding. And director James Bagnall's main note to his actors seems to have been "When in doubt, scream real loud!"

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