The work of young playwrights from parts east of Great Britain is a rarity on Chicago stages, although T.U.T.A. artistic director Zeljko Djukich offers the occasional exception. The company has an eclectic sensibility when it comes to mapping out a season, but there seems to be at least one emerging constant: a focus on Balkan Gen X writers who might be better categorized as Generation V—Generation Violence. “Tracks, ” from Belgrade native Milena Markovic, follows a gang of delinquents through their high-school years and beyond. They are malicious bullies—the inevitable byproduct of an economically depressed, violence-strewn environment. Their hideousness has more mundane origins, too: they’re bored. But make no mistake; these boys are average—not despite their viciousness, but precisely because of it. Rape, mutilation, murder: it is all par for the course. (Women are “bitches,” a term that acquires a certain neutrality after a while.) Markovic has some specific things to say about de-evolution of humanity when stress and fear are the predominate states of mind, but the production is all bark, no bite. From the get-go, these are sketchily drawn characters, virtually unrecognizable from one scene to the next. That may be the playwright’s intent—the slipperiness of the soul, perhaps—but the payoff is nil: a choppy collection of two-dimensional, actorly moments. The play verges on preciousness with its pop-song interludes, wherein the cast sings “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Sea of Love.” It’s a little too sweet, too isn’t-it-ironic? (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.