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  WINDY CITY TIMES

STRANGE LIGHT
by Rick Reed
2001-08-01

This article shared 1166 times since Wed Aug 1, 2001
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Lamps, in various forms, are strewn across the stage. Slides are projected throughout the course of the production: a neon-bright Times Square, fireworks, flames, leaves glowing with sunlight, and more. The characters make constant references, some biblical, some contemporary, some poetic, about illumination. In short, it's no secret that playwright Cynthia Cooper has used light as motif and metaphor to illustrate her themes and to bring her characters to life ( as GE brought, back in its heyday, "good things to life," which is a constant refrain in the course of this haunting drama ) .

Bayley and Shue are a lesbian couple who have gone beyond the limerance phase of their love and are trying to hold their fragile relationship together. Bayley, an almost bi-polar attorney, is having problems: her mother suffers from Alzheimer's and she has yet to come to terms with her relationship with her father: a brilliant scientist who once toiled for General Electric and who may or may not have invented the fluorescent light bulb. Shue, the more settled of the two, has warm memories of her family, and a father who built his own simple pin camera which the two would take on outings when Shue was a girl, capturing the play of light and darkness in photos that haunt, and delight, Shue in her adult life.

And so playwright Cooper brings us into the world of her characters, people just like us, with the same problems and questions about our heritage and about the worlds of love and livelihood we inhabit in the present. Strange Light is a poem of a play, and ultimately rewarding, because its themes are not "gay" or "lesbian," but universal enough to be embraced by us all. Just as light works as a metaphor here to illuminate the darkness of Bayley and Shue's lives, it also works as an adhesive, binding the human community together in a soulful way.

With Robin M. Hughes empathetic, deft direction and terrific performances by the two leads, Christine Gatto as Bayley, and Tracy Repp as Shue, the Bailiwick Pride Series has a winner on its hands. Strange Light doesn't have the splash or controversy of some other productions in the series, buts its spare, elegant construction, along with what it has to say about basic human truths, makes it worthwhile...sure to evoke emotion and provoke thought ... long after the theater goes dark.


This article shared 1166 times since Wed Aug 1, 2001
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