Your Web-Footed Friends | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Your Web-Footed Friends 

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Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, Lab Theater.

How could a guitar-toting folksinger only know how to play one chord? Why would a professional New York photojournalist focusing on society's downtrodden imagine that she could snap the picture that would "define a generation" at Taste of Chicago? And why, if your play includes multiple references to the oppressive heat, would you populate your food fair with a dozen cardboard cutouts mostly wearing office attire?

Only playwright David Rush and director Steve Scott can answer these questions. Their world-premiere production of Your Web-Footed Friends is so weakened by implausibility that it barely remains on its feet. Rush wants to create an apocalyptic slice of life, bringing together four disparate urban characters desperate to reaffirm their faith in a crumbling world. And his grand metaphorical scheme has promise; the characters must reach Buckingham Fountain, a symbol of cleansing and rebirth, before the day is through. However, he expends so much effort trying unsuccessfully to be clever and funny that he barely scratches the surface of his own best material.

Like so many playwrights in the age of television, Rush confuses personality quirks with character. One repeatedly gets the feeling that he doesn't know the characters he writes about; a psychic uses tarot cards, for example, to uncover details of a client's life that no tarot deck would ever provide. Rush is capable of creating powerful drama and fascinating characters--as his last play, Dapples and Grays, demonstrated. Let's hope he gives up on entertainment and gets back to being a playwright.

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