Vitalist Theatre’s production of David Hare’s “The Bay at Nice” is a little flat but a great choice for this tenacious company entering its tenth year. Written during the Cold War in 1986 and set in Leningrad in 1956, this quick one-act centers on Valentina Nrovka (Ariel Brenner), a former student and lover of artist Henri Matisse. She is summoned by the state to authenticate a work that is accredited to the Fauvist master. In the process, Valentina is forced to confront her illegitimate daughter Sophia’s (H. Lynn Kendziera) unhappy life. Kendziera, by the way, is the one to watch. Although written in a different time, the play resonates right here, right now. Hare’s questions of freedom within government and art in a society that does not value its creation cut to the quick of current issues here in the states and eerily reflect artistic disputes still effecting Russia. This inaugural show in Vitalist’s Second Wave Emerging Artists Series, intended to nurture the creative voices of Viatlaist company members, suffers a bit from an evenness in delivery that fights the dynamism of the text, but this young company seems eager to make a bigger mark on Chicago. (William Scott)
At Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave, (773)598-4549. This production is now closed.