A witty dark comedy trades Macbeth’s line of succession for college selection.
Playwright Jiehae Park’s dark lark transmutes Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Lady M, loosely, into teenage twin sisters known only as M. (Aurora Adachi-Winter) and L. (Caroline Chu) Their deadly ambition? To get coveted early admission into their school of choice, referred to only as “The College.” When the single slot goes instead to a hapless dweeb named D. (the affecting Jesse Massaro), who the sisters suspect may have swayed the admissions board with such unfair advantages as Native American heritage and a brother with cystic fibrosis, the twins take matters into their own bloody hands.
Park’s conceit is slight, but clever and artfully accomplished; the streamlined cast of characters is filled out by a freakily foreboding goth chick known as Dirty Girl (Amanda Fink), standing in Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters, and M.’s boyfriend (W. Matt Daniels), who becomes a liability. Hutch Pimentel’s staging of Peerless’s Chicago premiere is scruffily endearing, though you want Adachi-Winter and Chu to evince a stronger rapport. The play’s opening scene sets M and L up in a volley of sentence-completing twinspeak, but at the performance I saw several days after opening night, the exchange felt hesitant and inorganic. One senses these characters are meant to be as creepy a gestalt as the sisters from The Shining before the cracks in their alliance begin to appear. Though both compelling presences, they never quite convince as a single unit.
First Floor Theater at the Den Theatre. By Jiehae Park. Directed by Hutch Pimentel. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 30mins; no intermission.