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The Story of the Panda Bear...
BY TIM LOWERY | THEATER REVIEW | TIME OUT CHICAGO

It starts out with a bang: Boy and girl wake up naked in bed and don’t recognize each other. Details from the night before are sketchy—there’s something about a club opening, Baudelaire recitations and a 1945 bottle of wine. Girl wants to get the hell out of there; boy seems to be in love. They eventually agree to meet nine more times before saying au revoir.

Romanian playwright Visniec (who moved to France in the late ’80s after having some 20 plays banned in his then-communist homeland) writes charming, nonsugary dialogue, utilizing that rare element in highly romanticized storytelling: silence (think Charlie Kaufman head trips without the impossibly loop-de-loop speeches). And its U.S. premiere is a fortunate one; the play skirts around big ideas and becomes dreamier with each passing minute, but White’s grounded production makes things credible even when they’re out of whack.

Admittedly, a few of Visniec’s segments run out of steam—a long-winded game in which the boy can only say “a” to describe his feelings could’ve been cut in half—but the duo generally demands attention. As the flaky, faux-intellectual girl with “all the answers,” Cares assumes a sexy but slightly vulnerable presence; the doe-eyed Adamczak also holds his own as an affable romantic. At the end, we’re left with a wonderfully striking image that’s so full of beauty and eeriness, we’ll forgive you if Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” rings in your head on the way home.

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