REVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams


By Neil LabuteBash by neil labute

Directed by Paul Cosca

Produced by Brikenbrak Theatre Project in association

with Gorilla Tango Capital

At the Viaduct Theatre, Chicago

Grim stories of how nice people can be evil explodes on stage

Neil Labute’s Bash is composed of two monologues and a duet wherein four likable average people tell their stories that contain admissions of horrible evil acts.  Utilizing the spacious Viaduct Theatre, we see an armchair and a smaller chair set opposite of each other both encased in a black circle facing one another.  Before each of the three stories, a number is picked from those given each audience member and that ‘lucky’ person gets to sit on stage in the smaller chair facing the actor(s) in that story. Be  warned.

In “Iphigenia in Orem,” a businessman (Paul Cosca) confides in a stranger in a Las Vegas hotel room, confessing a most chilling crime. Cosca was effective, although at tad young as the charming 30 something suburbanite who rationalizes a crime against a family member. He is a nice guy whose crime can be explained away as not really his fault or so he believes.

Bash by neil labute

In a “Gaggle of Saints,” a young couple separately recounts the violent events of an anniversary weekend in New York City. Sue (Kirby Brown) is a dippy superficial college student concerned mainly with her appearance while John (Graham Jenkins) plays out his homoerotic conflicts with an act of random violence. Both are  church going Christians.

Bash by neil labute

In “Medea Redux,” the woman (April Taylor) tells of her complex and ultimately tragic relationship with her junior high school art teacher when she was 14 years old. Taylor’s subdued emotions slowly unfold as she weaves her tale of sexual abuse and revenge.

Bash by neil labute

These actors delivered Labute’s marvelous writing in a subdued mater of fact manner devoid of much emotion or guilt. We become torn because we quickly like each—then we realize that evil does, indeed, come from good-looking suburban middle class folks just like us. Labute is a master storyteller with a gift for getting the intricate details correct so that believability rings true in his tales of evil.

These three stories are speeches rather than interactive dialogue mostly acted with conviction. I did have trouble hearing April Taylor as she spoke to softly throughout her monologue. Paul Cosca and Graham Jenkins stood out with their glib storytelling. Bash is a thought provoking and disturbing look at the foibles of humanity.


Tom Williams

At the Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N . Western, Chicago, runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 7pm, Sundays at 3pm through October 31st at The Viaduct Theatre,  Tickets are 15 dollars. To purchase tickets, call The Viaduct Theatre at 773-296-6024 .

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