What a Fool Believes, Cest La Vie Drama Club of Chicago, at the Heartland Studio Theater. Watching Brian LaDuca’s first playwriting effort for his new company is like looking at a stranger’s college photos–it’s an occasionally nostalgic but mainly tedious exercise. Recent grad Brett (the overemoting Jeremy Harrison) has been dumped by his college girlfriend, which sends him into a downward spiral of self-pity that culminates in a refusal to leave his bedroom. Various frat brothers come by to cheer him up, some offering platitudes, others beer and drugs. But he doesn’t cheer up. He just keeps asking the same questions over and over: If she loved him, why did she leave? Was there someone else?
LaDuca’s 90 minutes of youthful angst over nothing are capped by a contrived, melodramatic ending awkwardly and bafflingly staged–we’re never sure which characters are visible to whom or whether they’re in someone’s head or not. Brandon Wardell’s murky lighting exacerbates the confusion. However, Cara Mantella is on target as an empathetic, conflicted friend, and Christian Anderson brings depth and an energetic physicality to his portrayal of a buddy with barely leashed violent tendencies.