Down at the very bottom of the human sinkhole that is Gregory Burke’s 2001 play, you will find Eddie, a psychotic, sharp-minded bundle of sinew and boredom who has had it up to here with multinational corporations and their hypocrisy and social carelessness. In essence, he is Ted Kaczynski with a Scottish accent, stuck in a menial, boredom-inducing job that leads to some dastardly ideas about how to make a statement to the world about life’s inequities. Actor Michael Shannon has played this sort of character many times before (most recently Off-Broadway in Tracy Letts’ “Bug”), and he is the master of fucked-up brainiacs. If anyone in town is going to play this part, it might as well be Shannon, who does one hell of a job of it in this production from A Red Orchid Theatre. Under the smartly precise direction of Karen Kessler, the play is tension rendered in three dimensions. Eddie and his pal Gary (Guy VanSweringen, a nice understated foil to Eddie’s mania) have kidnapped a corporate consultant (John Judd) and intend to kill him. In the midst of it all, hapless security guard (neat work by Steve Schine) inadvertently gets mixed up in the proceedings. Despite the gruesome goings-on, Burke’s script is loaded with a corrosive comedy that is impossible to resist. In this tiny theater space, where air circulation is at a minimum, a closed, claustrophobic feeling sets in, and Kessler never lets up. A Red Orchid is one of the few companies around that still barrels around with the kind of enraged, in-your-face work that once defined the Chicago theater. It’s messy work, but someone’s got to do it. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.