It was interesting to see Cor Theatre’s production of “Love and Human Remains” by Canadian writer Brad Fraser. I first saw the play it was based on “Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love” in 1991 at the now-defunct Halsted Street Theatre. The original production was groundbreaking in its graphic depiction of nudity, violence and homosexual relations – both male and female – in Chicago’s mainstream theatre scene.
The original play had far less high-tech qualities that so brilliantly hike the tension level in the Cor production. This time around it’s a high-powered thriller set in Chicago rather than Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The location has changed but the graphic sex and violence remain as the story follows the exploits of Candy (Kate Black-Spence) and her gay waiter roommate, David (Andrew Goetten).
Both characters, searching for a soulmate, are the intersection of two intriguing love triangles. David is has a troubled best friend, Bernie (Sam Guinan-Nyhart) and a young confused lover, Kane (Ethan Warren). Candy is pursued by a lesbian teacher, Jerri (Lauren Sivak) who she meets at her workout class and a bartender, Robert (Eric Staves). Spicing up the action is the devilishly erotic Benita, a dominatrix friend of David, portrayed to the fullest by Tosha Fowler. Benita also reads minds among her obvious talents.
While Candy and David bounce between friendships and romance, a serial killer is brutally piling up female victims. Punctuated by blackouts and underground club techno-music, the temperatures rise as does the character’s sexual passions in the briskly moving storyline. The two-hour performance never lulls while holding the audience in its grip leading to the spellbinding conclusion.
Goetten as David, a waiter and former televison actor, gets off some great lines while sorting through the cast of characters trying to make sense of his own life. Black Spence, as Candy, pours out a carload of emotion choosing between her lesbian lover and bartending suitor. Popping in throughout the action is Guinan-Nyhart whose chilling stare and menacing voice terrorizes everyone. Fowler leaves little to the imagination and much to the eyes as the sexually-charged object of desire.
Navid Afshar’s dark bedroom set with limited color flanked by florescent lights and co-sound designers Christopher M. LaPorte and Eric Backus create an eerie and heart-pounding soundtrack provide a perfect backdrop for the tense action. Well cast and under the tight direction of Ernie Nolan, the show will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
An added note is credit to Remy Bumppo Artistic Director Nick Sandys who did a great job of directing the very physical fight scenes.
Much like its previous shows, Cor excels in presenting slick productions and daring scripts utilizing fearless actors. This show continues the journey. For mature audiences only, give this one four (out of four) stars.
“Love and Human Remains” continues through July 11 at Rivendell Theatre, 5779 N. Ridge, Chicago. For tickets visit www.CorTheatre.org or call (866) 811-4111.