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.