DURANG 4PLAY, A Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company, at Theatre Building Chicago. This sampler offers an introduction to prolific American playwright Christopher Durang, showcasing his mischievous, dreamy style and two of his favorite subjects: the devouring mother and theater classics. Alternately demonic and saccharine matriarchs whirl through ‘Dentity Crisis and Death Comes to Us All, Mary Agnes, indulging in incestuous affairs and other manipulations of their offspring. Then there’s Medea, Durang’s abridged twist on the classic (written with Wendy Wasserstein): here the killer mother is contemplating eating her young, with encouragement from a snappy Greek chorus/gay entourage shouting self-help slogans. Tina Haglund as Medea and as the mum in Mary Agnes proves herself the Durangiest of them all, wielding her destructive power with so much relish and so little conscience that the other performances appear forced by comparison.
The fourth piece, Desire, Desire, Desire, is a rather rudderless spoof of Tennessee Williams featuring dueling Maggie the Cats and other well-known characters. Holding the play together–by a thread–is BC Kalz’s demure drag Blanche, still fretting and tossing her handkerchief to test the kindness of strangers six years after sister Stella’s famous exit. At more than two hours, this late-night show is long enough, but it still leaves us hungering for more of Durang’s unique brand of insanity.