LOVE TALK, Chicago Theatre Company. A great deal of talent and hard work have obviously gone into this revue, made up of the poetry of Michelle McKinney Hammond. Director Ilesa Lisa Duncan employs dance, music, mime, video, and a variety of performance techniques to impose a semblance of linear progression on what is essentially a series of contemplations on a single topic.
But despite the title, Hammond’s talk is less about love than it is about relationships: its sentimental rhapsodies are intercut with ruthlessly didactic psychoanalytical remarks. Meanwhile a pastiche of scattershot metaphors evokes a sweatless, soft-focus universe populated solely by the physically attractive, the fashionably dressed, and the financially solvent. (It comes as no surprise that Hammond has been an advertising copywriter.)
Counting the Ways is a pastime largely uninteresting to any but the participants. The four actors saddled with the task of reciting sweet nothings for two hours here struggle to personalize their Barbie-and-Ken characters, as does Coco Elysses as a flower-bedecked Aphrodite providing ringside commentary. But for those acquainted with poetry slams at places like the Green Mill (where the author of a line like “My love is deep–can you swim?” would be hooted off the stage), Love Talk recalls nothing so much as an overheated fantasy after a Barry White concert.
–Mary Shen Barnidge