Chicago Theater Review: THE BACHELORS (Cole Theatre at Greenhouse Theatre)

Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THE BACHELORS (Cole Theatre at Greenhouse Theatre)

by Lawrence Bommer on March 20, 2016

in Theater-Chicago


Stop the presses for a late-breaking alert: Men can be crude, drunk, womanizing wretches. This astonishing revelation fuels the bottom-feeding 75 minutes of Caroline M. McGraw’s utterly unedifying exposé. The Bachelors, a Midwest-premiere black comedy from Cole Theatre at the Greenhouse Theater Center, would only be news on Uranus. Erica Weiss’s rampaging staging can only italicize, boldface, underline and capitalize these blatant bad boys.

The locale is a male pigsty (“man cave” is too kind), littered with liquor bottles and populated by three rancidly sexist, toxically misogynistic roommates. Thirty-something Peter Pans who refuse to grow up, this nasty trio of loud losers lack any redeeming facet that ever made a lounge lizard charming or a serial seducer sexy. Full of impenetrably hokey guy talk, the trainwreck action merely fingers these fools, as if picking them out in a police lineup.

Shane Kenyon (Laurie), Boyd Harris (Henry) and Nicholas Bailey (Kevlar) in Cole Theatre’s THE BACHELORS, directed by Erica Weiss. Photo by Nathanael Filbert

Each is defined by his mistreatment of a victim/woman. Pathologically jealous though equally disloyal, “Kevlar” (Nicholas Bailey), named for his indestructibility, is first seen sprawled half-naked on a couch, deep into a second hangover. When awake, this vomiting porker is furious at his estranged girlfriend Danielle (a “jizz mop”) for daring to develop ovarian cancer, then declaring that, if she has six months to live, her bucket list will not include him. He calls her evil and thinks the fatal disease is an attention-getting device since, of course, it’s all about him.

Then there’s 35-year-old salesman Laurie (Shane Kenyon), returning from a disastrous business trip in Las Vegas. His mistreatment of a stripper named Amy did not, contrary to the famous slogan, stay there. To complete his villainy, this jerk has designs on the dying Danielle. Finally, there’s a sociopathic hunk named Henry (Boyd Harris, treacherously cute). A cellular biologist without a soul, he’s plied Kev with drugs to keep him sedated. He’s also gone further than the rest, as the unseen, naked, and duct-taped girl in the attic will attest.

Next door there’s a 60’s-style party going on, festive with a younger crowd, that the guys briefly attend (and to whose songs Henry will manically and alluringly dance). Perhaps it’s a distraction from their testosterone predations. (There’s also a knock-down fist fight between Laurie and Henry that the latter, stronger and more sober, easily wins.)

Nicholas Bailey (Kevlar), Boyd Harris (Henry) and Shane Kenyon (Laurie) in Cole Theatre’s THE BACHELORS directed by Erica Weiss. Photo by Nathanael Filbert

In any case each lout has arrived at a reckoning, the “dark night of the soul” that should signify a moral, sexual and emotional dead end. But for them there are no occasions to rise to, just a lower circle of hell to explore. Watching three smart and attractive actors swim through McGraw’s sewer feels like a really empty exercise. Not for a second can you believe that Kev, Henry and Laurie can change until they’re arrested for sheer ignorance, domestic abuse, compulsive prevarication, whatever. I wish McGraw showed us that as well.

The fact that women wrote and directed Cole Theatre’s new work both deepens this easy indictment of gender evil and highlights the redundancy of so many familiar accusations. If this were a crime scene (instead of just a car crash), the cops would be entirely right to say, “Nothing new here, folks. Just move on.” You’d have more fun looking under a rock.

photos by Nathanael Filbert

The Bachelors
Cole Theatre
The Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
ends on April 10, 2016
for tickets, visit Cole

for more theater, visit Theatre in Chicago

Leave a Comment