Waiting For the Sunrise | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Waiting For the Sunrise 

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Waiting For the Sunrise, Real Rain Productions, at the Athenaeum Theatre. There's way too much going on in Richard Ford's "world premiere" (a phrase that's starting to give me stomach cramps). The rivalry between two brothers--power-hungry politician David (John Fenner Mays) and cuddly professor Arthur (Michael Kass)--is depicted as a medieval duel, a good start. David is scheming to get his brother fired so that the younger man will agree to run his campaign. Not likely, but we'll go with it. Then comes an influx of wives, ex-wives, scandals, love scenes, parents rising from the dead, and other phantoms swirling around with no real explanation or purpose; everyone spouts slogans like "The future is the past" and "Life is not for the meek," rolling on and on until you suspect that this may never end. Two and a half hours later, it does.

Remarkably, some performances shine through the mayhem. Mays's intensity is riveting as he grapples with the conflict between his colossal ambition and a few twinges of family loyalty. Too bad he doesn't have a more coherent moral battlefield. As David's ex-wife Carol, Jeanine O'Connell deftly brandishes her sword, then hides behind the armor of a woman wronged by love one too many times. Debra Ann Miller takes on countless characters in chameleonic fashion. It's hard for us to tell who some of them are, but she clearly knows, and that's something.

--Kim Wilson

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