There are moments in Marisa Wegrzyn’s newest play that stand out like beacons in the night. Too often you are stranded in the dark. I was blown away earlier this year by Wegrzyn’s “Diversey Harbor, ” a show that will turn up on many “Best of 2007” lists. Her current effort is less satisfying. The comparison may not be fair, but “Diversey Harbor” was that good. Wegrzyn is working in a different genre this time. Conceived as a gallows-inflected comic-book comedy—a graphic novel in three-dimensions—“Killing Women” follows the travails and workaday annoyances of a contract killer named Abby (Margot Bordelon). She is a streetwise tomboy in black leather and bright, red boots; a female assassin smashed against the glass ceiling. She rarely smiles. She is a figment of film noir and the nightmares of men. Her female co-workers are a headache. One is a girly executioner who likes a little romance before the kill. The other is a reluctant ace-shot and a “do-it-yourself widow” who recently whacked her own husband. Abby just wants respect, and she’s aiming for a promotion. Her boss, Ramone, isn’t so sure (played by Mark Stegman in a terrific, slithery take on Kevin Spacey). They share an excellent scene in a bar—tension-filled and sly—and it reveals more about these characters than anything else in the play. (The Theatre Seven production is directed by Brian Golden.) This fleeting spark of insight, I think, is what really distinguishes the script from “Diversy Harbor,” which was so exacting and specific in its depiction of personalities. No one in “Killing Women” is recognizably human, nor are they stylized enough to believably exist in another world altogether. There are other problems—the play feels directionless for much of the first act—but Wegrzyn has a fierce sense of humor and specific point of view. I’d really like to see what she does next; both she and Theatre Seven are worth tracking in the future. No way their previous hit was a fluke. (Nina Metz)
At Theatre Seven of Chicago, 528 West Wellington Avenue, Suite 528, Chicago, Illinois 60657, (773) -853-3158. This production is now closed.