Young Playwrights Festival | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Young Playwrights Festival 

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YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL, Pegasus Players. Culled from 650 scripts, this year's crop of four new plays by Chicago teenagers is less conventional than in past years--which is not altogether a blessing. Most successful is Michael Myers's exuberant staging of Damien Croteau-Chonka's Outpatient Care, an absurdist expose of one harried invalid's attempt to get into and out of a hospital despite bureaucratic ineptitude and self-fulfilling diagnoses. Nick Lewis is hilariously hapless as the impatient patient. More story than play, Kate Newman's potentially moving Portrait of an Exile revolves around Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. Under the direction of Alex Levy, Christine Bunuan had difficulty playing the haunted internee, but that's partly due to her extensive narration and partly to the device of making the other characters shadows behind a screen, further reducing the dramatic potential. However, the parallels drawn to the Patriot Act are poignant.

In a pell-mell staging by Jay Paul Skelton, Marisa Wallin's Yes, We Have No Bananas pays twisted homage to dadaist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Capturing her craziness all too well, Wallin divides the sculptor-poet into three characters, each wackier than the last, while delivering flash card portraits of William Carlos Williams and Marcel Duchamp. The play is inventive and energetic, but to what end? Even more opaque is Christopher Irving's A Cryptic Philosophy, staged by Katie Klemme. It features muddled dialogue about destiny and free will as one student plays a vicious trick on another.

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