ROBERT MITCHUM HANGS OUT AT DUNKIN’ DONUTS, Another Chicago Theater Company, at the Breadline Theatre Laboratory. The youthful characters in writer-director Paul Barile’s world premiere face big decisions about marriage, career, and sexual preference. The focus is on Casey (Katie Hammond), who has prewedding jitters. Should she marry beer-swilling attorney George when Bobby’s bulging biceps drive her to distraction? Lending support and advice are Casey’s best friend, mother, and dead father’s ghost.
Barile boasts in his program note that the play was written on a bar stool between sips of whiskey. That may explain why the story deteriorates from a lucid if mundane starting point into excruciating blather. Characters are inconsistent, the most flagrant example being Casey’s mother, who’s described as hyperinvested in her daughter’s marriage yet comes across onstage as laid-back and supportive. Love/sex matches erupt out of nowhere while the relationship between Casey and George (which lacks any visible foundation anyway) merely sputters out. Even titular hero Robert Mitchum gets only one brief mention–while the girls are rhapsodizing about Frank Sinatra.
Despite the script’s disconnects, some of the actors create appealing characters–especially Courtney Ann Melzer as Casey’s best friend and Jeremy Evans as the dazed and confused George, whose mutterings provide the play’s funniest moments. As Hemingway said, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” Barile needs to get off the bar stool and get out his red pen.