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“Highway Patrol” starring Dana Delany at the Goodman Theater

Dana Delany is certainly a brave actress.

Network series like “China Beach,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Burden of Proof” are all highpoints of the dazzling Delany’s prime-time TV career, cultivating her mass audience as niche, elite and low-rent, but as an actress with her talent He can still get on happily in his 60s.

You know, guest roles or poignant Irish dramas or easy Broadway roles or something.

He certainly doesn’t have to put himself, his faults, and his insecurities into Chicago, as he did in his wildly risky and undeniably charming new theatrical confessional. “Highway Patrol” at the Goodman Theatre.

Most artists who draw inspiration from their real life for a show – “What Does the Constitution Mean to Me?” If I can think of it – do it to share political ideas or strong personal statements. They ask the audience to follow them and keep up with them. They are responsible for their own stories.

By contrast, Delany’s show invites the viewer to feel superior to the star for two hours.

I kept asking myself if I had ever seen anything like this. I’m not sure I ever had one, but Lucas Hnath “Dana H.” The one also seen in Goodman is the closest.

“Highway Patrol” was co-created by Delany, writer Jen Silverman, director Mike Donahue and designer Dane Laffrey, and also stars Dot-Marie Jones and Thomas Murphy Molony. It begins with the star taking to Twitter to promote “Burden of Proof,” in which she plays medical examiner Megan Hunt, circa 2011, and engaging with fans at the behest of the network.

Playing herself, Delany begins hearing from Cam (Molony), a self-described 13-year-old in Costa Rica, through a series of tweets, direct messages, and emails that gradually escalate over time—with great caution to her own privacy or safety as Delany fails to pay. does; star and fan get closer. A lot closed.

He tells her he’s terminally ill, draws her deeper into his life, and even puts her grandmother (Jones) on the virtual line to provide timely medical updates and more. To say that Delany empathizes with the boy is to understate how important the relationship, however frightening, is to him.

This is where reviewing this show gets difficult.

“Highway Patrol” is set up as a mystery, and I hate to spoil anyone’s discoveries. But I think it’s fair to say that we all sense that this Cam isn’t quite as fast as he seems, much faster than the star being hunted. And in this area the piece needs more work.

Simply put, the real question of the series is “What’s going on?” it shouldn’t, which I think is more obvious than the creators thought; “From where?” it should.

Although they often arrive very late in the series, there are hints of the crushing loneliness of TV stardom, of being a big-money commodity for others, and of the stresses and strains that come with fame and 16-hour shooting days. It shows that seemingly very successful people still carry their own losses with them. And in the best moments, we understand how fame subverts normality, how the strange combination of access and removal in the TV world naturally creates a kind of false intimacy for people on both sides of the equation. answer.

Interestingly, we also have a rare study of the early days of social media; During this period, its harmful properties had not yet fully emerged, and therefore the Delanys in the world were more vulnerable. How quickly we forget.

But with all these things there is still a long way to go. Delany’s show needs to go beyond Delany, and as strange as it sounds, that practically means she needs to tell us more about herself so we can figure out for ourselves what it is that makes her so shockingly vulnerable. This is the essence and key to the complete development of the piece.

“Highway Patrol” is the work of an artistically advanced team, and although it may seem like a work in progress, Laffrey’s digital visuals are extremely striking and are a small work of art in themselves. It should also be clear that this is a very meta experience; It’s something Jones, himself a star on “Glee” as Coach Beiste, also takes great credit for. Young Molony also holds his ground.

The piece mostly needs more text, more biography, more analysis of the situation of being so famous that it’s both seductively intrusive and yet not famous enough to have Taylor Swift-like bodyguards.

The show currently has no idea how it’s going to end, and veers off onto a different topic when it should actually stay on point. And it certainly doesn’t need to provide us with any consequential comfort; In many ways, this means falling into his self-proclaimed trap.

All that said, I’d say this is a must-see movie for Delany fans. I wondered all night if he decided to do this stunt without really thinking through where it would lead and hoping he could jump off the train, but he actually couldn’t.

At this point, it’s likely to be the Broadway station, and it needs to travel at dangerous speeds to where it needs to be. Good for him. His armor should be universal truths about what celebrity social media has created.

Theater Cycle

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Chris Jones is a Tribune critic.

cjones5@chicagotribune.com

Review: “Highway Patrol” (3 stars)

When: Until February 18

Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St.

Working time: 2 hours

Tickets: $25-$90 at 312-443-3800 and www.goodmantheatre.org

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