Languid, Slimtack Theatre Company, at Dante’s Inferno. Slimtack made its debut last year (as Surrell) with a staging in a north-side living room. For “Languid”–Tennessee Williams’s Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen and Hills Like White Elephants, an adaptation of the Hemingway story–the company has taken up residence in a cozy West Loop loft.
Both pieces concern couples on the verge of breaking up, and Michael Rice’s direction effectively enhances the works’ intimacy. The Williams play benefits from the verisimilitude of John Wilson’s scenic and lighting design (including a very convincing rainfall) but suffers from the actors’ youth and inexperience. Brad Ashten and Jennifer Paige give earnest performances but simply don’t have the chops to convince us of their characters’ hard lives and anguished love. Far more successful is Hills Like White Elephants–in which a couple awaits a train to Mexico in order to obtain an abortion–thanks in large part to Julie Partyka’s nuanced performance; Todd Pate acquits himself well as her callow lover.
The evening also includes readings of the poetry of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and original songs by Courtney Shore. They don’t really flesh out the plays’ themes, and though Shore is winsome, her voice is sometimes too soft to hear even from the front row.