Travels with Lewis and Clark--Part Two: The Name of a Woman | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Travels with Lewis and Clark--Part Two: The Name of a Woman 

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TRAVELS WITH LEWIS AND CLARK--PART TWO: THE NAME OF A WOMAN, Theatre-Hikes. Playwright Dori Robinson makes the difficult task of compressing into two hours Lewis and Clark's 4,000-mile journey from the Pacific back to Saint Louis all the more challenging. Her title suggests that this segment of a planned trilogy will center on Sacajawea, an Indian woman indispensable to the Corps of Discovery, but there's no evidence of her effect on camp life in this show. Robinson does depict Sacajawea's dreams and her concerns about her baby's future--the boy confusingly played by a woman, the show's narrator.

The play also addresses Lewis's mistrust of Native Americans, Clark's mistreatment of his African-American slave, the slave's wish for freedom, the brotherly bond between Lewis and Clark, the men's doubts, a death--and, well, you get the idea. At first it's lovely to be traipsing around outdoors (Gompers Park for the preview I saw) following the cast from scene to scene, but the journey grows tiring as we get lost in the unfocused narrative. Director Nicolas Minas uses the natural setting well, and Dennis Grimes and Aaron Manby have a good rapport as Lewis and Clark. But Robinson pursues so many ideas she never does full justice to any character's story.

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