Verbatim Verboten | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Verbatim Verboten 

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VERBATIM VERBOTEN, at the Royal George Theatre Center. Past productions in Michael Martin's series have featured a veritable who's who of Chicago's media and performance elite reading transcripts of conversations among the powerful, the famous, and the criminal. Now in a commercial run at the Royal George, this two-hour evening without intermission is in need of some serious editing but still provides some deeply funny and just plain disturbing snippets. Part of opening night was dedicated to Chicago legends, and Jenny Magnus knocked it out of the park as former Cubs manager Lee Elia delivering an operatically obscene tirade against fickle fans. Sergi Bosch as William Kunstler vainly attempts to question the first Mayor Daley (Matthew Wilson) during the Chicago Seven trial, but this scene attacking cronyism doesn't grow from there.

If director Martin and his rotating cast can find a focus for each evening, these snippets could really fly. Serendipitous matches include Warren Levon in a powerhouse turn as Louis Armstrong, Jonathan Pereira as Richard Nixon attempting to explain the sentimental beauty of Brian's Song to Donald Rumsfeld, and Kristen Williams as Nicole Kidman and Marilyn Monroe.

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