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Revolting tale at the Kennedy Center Coyote Ugly Play by Lynn Siefert. Directed by John Malkovich. Cast includes Laurie Metcalf, Moira Harris, Francis Guinan, Randall Arney, Kathleen Sykora. Set by Kevin Rigdon.

``Coyote Ugly'' is aptly named. The Steppenwolf Theater Company production has just opened at the Kennedy Center's small Terrace Theater as part of a quartet of Chicago Theater productions, in the center's American National Theater effort to showcase regional drama.

In brief, Lynn Siefert's play deals with a sordid subject: a family tangled in incest, in which the incest is played for laughs.

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This cruel, savage story, one that sacrifices both Siefert's and the cast's talents to its iconoclastic and brutish theme, is as graphic and vulgar as anything KenCen has ever run.

Director John Malkovich, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in ``Places in the Heart,'' has put a fast spin on this play. He has done it in a lacerating, explicit style that hints at what he can do with a script worthy of his talent -- Shaw's ``Arms and the Man,'' for instance, which he directed for its current Broadway run.

The Steppenwolf Theater Company will also bring a production of David Rabe's Vietnam play, ``Streamers,'' to Kennedy Center July 30-Aug. 11. The other two plays in the Chicago quartet, sponsored by AT&T, are Wisdom Bridge's productions of ``In the Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison,'' about convicted murderer Jack Henry Abbott, and ``Kabuki Medea,'' Shozo Sato's Japanese Kabuki version of Euripides' Greek classic. (``In the Belly of the Beast,'' currently playing here, will be reviewed from New York when it opens there.)

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