View of the Dome | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

View of the Dome 

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VIEW OF THE DOME, Victory Gardens Theater. The "view" alluded to in TV writer Theresa Rebeck's smug satire on sex and politics is that of the Capitol as seen from a table for one. The play's heroine, a campaign volunteer named Emma, has been relegated there while her powerful friends dine a quatre; wounded by this slight and by a fleeting romance with an adulterous senator, Emma concocts a scandal involving sex-for-influence--only to become the darling (and patsy) of right-wing interest groups. As Rebeck charts Emma's transformation from clingy idealist to manipulative cynic, the audience is left with the same sense one gets from news stories about Bill Clinton, Kenneth Starr, Monica Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey, and Linda Tripp: no matter who done what to whom, the whole crowd is pretty damn dreadful.

Benefiting from fortuitous timing, Sandy Shinner's slick Victory Gardens staging features a cast of off-Loop stalwarts. Lisa Tejero is quizzically ingenuous as Emma, while clever caricatures are sketched by Jeff Parker as her compromising campaign-manager boyfriend, Rob Riley as the Ted Kennedy-like senator, Joe Van Slyke as a hypocritical "family values" hatemonger, Dev Kennedy as a paranoid candidate and an even more paranoid Christian closet queen, Meg Thalken as a scheming spin doctor, and Jason Lee as a black waiter who sneers at white folks' scandals. Add Rebeck's sitcom-quirky dialogue and designer Jeff Bauer's sleekly versatile set and you've got a diverting, breezy comedy that happens to be blowing with the current political winds.

--Albert Williams

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