Fifty unwilling brides for fifty conniving cousins: that’s the premise of Aeschylus’s “The Suppliants,” adapted some 2500 years later by Charles Mee as “Big Love.” Mee characteristically fractures the ancient drama, a natural move in this case, since Aeschylus’s play itself forms part of a trilogy that has survived only in fugitive lines. While “Big Love” suffers from an unconvincing and fairly tedious resolution, a long speech by the matriarch Bella (Annie Rubino) in praise of love, Mee manages to invest Aeschylus’s old story with a contemporary flair. The trio of suppliants, Lydia (Abbey Borkin), Olympia (Amanda Link) and Thyona (Sheila Regan), perform a haunting version of “You Don’t Own Me” before repeatedly hurling themselves to the ground, denouncing the iron cage of love. Their frenzied struggles are later mirrored by their pursuers Nikos (Taavo Smith), Oed (Dan Bakken) and Constantine (Eustace Allen). The production marks a high point for Experimental Theatre Chicago, which has matched ambitious programming with occasionally shaky performances. The cast members mostly inhabit their roles with a passionate intelligence; Regan’s Thyona, with her murderous commitment to justice (and lines borrowed from Valerie Solanis’s SCUM manifesto) stands out particularly. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.