The Flu Season
A young man and a young woman, inpatients at a psychiatric hospital, fall tentatively in love. Guiding and narrating—and often interrupting—their tale is a pair of entities named for literary devices, both invisible to the characters. The earnest, romantic Prologue represents the eager author in the early stages of creation, introducing a play he calls The Snow Romance. The rueful cynic Epilogue, who’s also unseen by Prologue, is the author defeated, endlessly revising. “I come later, after,” he says, “coldly, and with a little less optimism.” It’s he who provides the play’s true, unhopeful title.
Not so much a play-within-a-play as a play-about-the-state-of-being-a-play, Eno’s shrewd 2004 work is preoccupied with the mechanics of plot, character and writerly tendencies. And yet it’s also a wistful meditation on the precariousness of human feeling. This well-choreographed Chicago premiere strikes just the right balance, engaging us on multiple levels without veering toward either academic or twee.
That’s largely thanks to a pitch-perfect cast. Krebsbach is dead-on as the confident, tweed-jacketed Prologue; he’s also convincingly shell-shocked as Roberts’s snappish, harrowed Epilogue gains control. As the lovers, Holzfeind and Wedoff have terrific chemistry as a pair of charming, credible open wounds. Watt and the superbly funny Marx provide support as self-absorbed and self-aware doctor and nurse. There’s no cure for caprice, whether romantic or authorial, but Eno offers a thoughtful attempt at vaccination.