When the lights come up on the backend of a coffee shop in Vermont (created here with just the right amount of loving grunge by scenic designer Dan Stratton), the audience views two bearded slackers (Steve Haggard and Brad Akin) sitting on a picnic table, staring in opposite directions. And that’s more or less all they do for around two full minutes. As the silence lingers, members of the audience chuckle to themselves or readjust in their seats, trying to get comfortable with what is happening (or not happening) in front of them. In this way director Shade Murray opens the Chicago premiere of Annie Baker’s “The Aliens” and sets us up to understand why this understated script won Baker the Obie for Best New American Play.
A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 North Wells, (312)943-8722, aredorchidtheatre.org
Best of Chicago 2013