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Old 01.10.2008, 03:40 PM   #1
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Young playwrights offer works in progress

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/stage/chi-ovn_0111playwrightsjan11,1,3580730.story?ctrack=1& cset=true

By Kerry Reid | Special to the Tribune January 11, 2008

"There is no excitement in love. Love is very predictable," observes the young William Shakespeare in Molly McAndrew's "A Rose in the Royal Court," one of four plays by teenage scribes now on display in Pegasus Players' 22nd annual Young Playwrights Festival.

Predictability is present in all the work (though a temporary power outage during McAndrew's piece on opening night provided some excitement). But so are youthful enthusiasm and an earnest desire to confront painful issues, which help make the undeniably derivative themes easier to take. And these are, of course, young voices not cynical old hands recycling past favorites for commercial gain.

Two of the pieces McAndrew's and Claire Rychlewski's "Coffee Girl" take on historical subject matter. The former is a fanciful look at Shakespeare in lust. The heroine, Rosalind, is the daughter of one of Queen Elizabeth's gardeners who runs into the lecherous scribe. She becomes the model for the never-seen Rosaline who first breaks Romeo's heart, rather than the inspiration for the plucky cross-dressing lass in "As You Like It." McAndrew's subplot Rosalind has a brother who joins the English navy echoes one in the contemporary "Daydream Nation," by Sarah Winters.





Winters' piece, a diptych inspired by the seminal Sonic Youth album, is the most formally ambitious. The first half takes place on a prom night when a couple on the cusp of adulthood confront fears about the future. The second features a collection of wannabe urban artists who find their relationships upended by the problems one of them has in accepting his brother's tour of duty in Iraq. It's an interesting concept, but the two parts don't mesh particularly well.

Rychlewski offers a rather standard-issue melodrama on the "tragic mulatto" theme. Here, the unknowing daughter of a slave and slave owner tries to get her shoes back from the vengeful mistress of the plantation. In the videotaped interview preceding her piece (a charming staple of the festival), Rychlewski notes that she was inspired by an actual slave narrative. But her writing feels more generic and stilted than authentic.

The evening closes with Laura Fernandez's corny but heartfelt "Blooming Flowers in Weeds," in which a pair of sassy Southern waitresses at the local greasy spoon befriend Julia, a troubled teenager. A cross between Dorothy Allison's novel "Bastard Out of Carolina" (which Julia is reading) and the late Adrienne Shelly's film "Waitress," the piece manages to be charming in its familiarity, and Fernandez shows a real flair for offhand vernacular dialogue.

Whether these writers continue to hone their craft or not, Pegasus deserves credit for providing a space where they can be taken seriously by older artists and audiences.

ctc-tempo@tribune.com
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Old 01.10.2008, 05:01 PM   #2
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maybe i'm just daft, but i don't understand what that has to do w/ day dream nation.
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Old 01.10.2008, 05:24 PM   #3
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it says inspired by not an adaptation of.
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