Time and adversity can easily destroy culture; witness the pillaging of Iraqi museums at the beginning of the current war. Lookingglass’ latest is a tender look at one woman’s struggle with her past and her efforts to honor her heritage.
Lilith (Marilyn Dodds Frank) is an octogenarian living in clutter with her new caregiver (Usman Ally). Haunted by the specter of an old love, street performer Ben Ari (Chance Bone), Lilith drifts between present day and visions of her life as a young girl in wartime Poland.
David Kersnar’s staging guides the piece seamlessly between realities. Jacqueline and Richard Penrod’s set and Tracy Otwell’s design ingeniously illustrate the toy theater aesthetic popular in the 1930s. Bone is an appealing, versatile storyteller and the relationship with sheltered Lilka (Nora Fiffer) is charming yet vulnerable. Frank and Ally’s clever, sarcastic banter belies a grudging respect. It’s a story about stories that’s enchanting. (Lisa Buscani)
“The Last Act of Lilka Kadison,” Lookingglass Theatre, 821 North Michigan, (312)337-0665. Through July 24.