One-act play. A 20-ish man
named Stu sits in a bathtub wearing only a pair of
jeans, while his girlfriend Joy makes preparations to
leave for Chicago, where she has taken a new job.
Friends drop by to wish her farewell, Joy hops into the
bathtub for a sweaty session of foreplay and Stu never
stirs from his pool of (imaginary) water.
Throughout the arrivals and departures of other
characters, Stu sustains a running monologue filled with
visions of marine life: of flesh-eating barracudas and
of fishermen seen from the fish's perspective. He
intermittently adopts the persona of a prim,
curmudgeonly old woman who frowns upon the flightiness
of young things on the beach.
As the imagery grows more and more fierce, culminating
in a description of an apocalyptic orgy, it becomes
clear that all this talk is really just about a guy who
doesn't want to be left by his lover. Those feelings are
translated into an extravaganza of metaphors that evoke
both a particular self-pity and a cosmic terror.
Theatre Genesis at St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery,
New York on April 16, 1965. Directed by Ralph Cook and
starring Kevin O'Connor and Mari-Claire Charba
Cafe La Mama - March 13 & 17, 1966
Martinque Theater - April 12, 1966
La Mama European Tour - 1967
London - 1976
Joseph Papp Public Theater, NY -
November 1996 - Directed by Joseph Chaikin and starring
Wayne Maugans and Leslie Silva
Double billed with "When the World was Green".
"Mr. Shepard has said he wrote
''Chicago' in one day, and the play still glows with the
sense of hot, youthful spontaneity, of a mind that
simply opened itself and let the images tumble out. But
it's also remarkably of a piece and, if you relax and
just give yourself to it, surprisingly coherent...
Ms. Silva and especially Mr. Maugans, whose sparkling
energy and inventiveness never flag, are first-rate,
recreating what one imagines the electricity must have
been when 'Chicago' was first performed at St. Mark's
Church-in-the-Bowery 31 years ago. The result is an
oddly sexual experience that both tickles and stings."
...Ben Brantley, NY Times, November 8, 1996
"'Chicago' is vintage early Shepard, a funny, furry
exercise that never quite becomes a shaggy dog story,
the playwright being more intent on short-circuiting
conventional expectations while playing with language...
Everything about 'Chicago' suggests we're in the company
of young, 1960's radical theater types who want to
disorient if not shock themselves and the audience, thus
to rediscover the primal effect of theater. Or something
like that." ...Vincent Canby, NY Times, November
"'Chicago' - and why is it
called that when it could just as well be Duluth or
Kangaroo? - is about nothing... Shepard can write plays
that make sense, but when he tries to be absurdist or
surreal, he usually fails; he doesn't understand that
absurdism must be witty or charming or poetic or
satirical, and that surrealism must at least evoke
associations." ...John Simon, New York magazine,
November 18, 1996