Fascination, About Face Theatre, at Theatre Building Chicago. Randall is a Dahmer-Gacy hybrid monster who lures gay boys to the house he shares with his invalid father, murders them, and stows the bodies in an ever more populated crawl space. Tall, handsome, and cowboy laconic, he racks up around 40 kills (the lack of an exact count is a running joke) before he’s caught.
But as playwright Jim Grimsley points out in a program note, Fascination isn’t about Randall’s capture. It’s about the peculiar sort of attention lavished on him by so-called normal folk. Like the boorish neighborhood busybody who has the dope on his family history. Or the pompous Geraldoid reporter who tries to open him up like Capone’s vault. Or the love-starved fundamentalist who just knows God wants her to marry him.
Grimsley and director Eric Rosen draw a vivid satirical portrait of the sickness that orbits Randall’s evil. Too vivid, perhaps, inasmuch as the sickness begins to overwhelm the evil. Compared to the parasites surrounding him, Randall starts to look more and more like a victim–an effect enhanced by the odd tenderness of a murder scene and by posthumous speeches suggesting that not even the dead are very annoyed at their fate. Grimsley and Rosen have taken an original and provocative approach to the intensely mythologized, infinitely media-ized image of the serial killer, but they’ve done it in a fatally distorted way: by disallowing the possibility of outrage.