The writer/director team Ken Prestininzi and Kate Hendrickson have teamed up for a delicate yet vivacious study of Paula Modersohn-Becker: painter, muse and object of Rainer Maria Rilke’s love. Drawing on letters, notebooks and Rilke’s own poetry, the writing is superb, and actors keep up. The play follows Paula, played by a luminous Betsy Zajko, her close friend Clara, and the two men they marry, four artists whose paths are both inspired and then limited by their romances and marriages. Paula’s relationship to her work outshines those between the couples, and the passion for vocation and artistic creation emphasized is inspiring. Sometimes actors don’t show quite enough restraint—emotions run high throughout the play, from idyllic beginnings involving a little too much giggling to the harsh life of bohemian Paris that comes on a bit too heavy—but the story is compelling enough to easily carry the feelings along. Special mention must be made about the set, which is exquisite, impressively interactive—appropriately artistic. (Monica Westin)
At Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Courtland, (773)384-0494. This production is now closed.