From its founding five years ago, the Factory Theater has excelled at wacky comedies and camp send-ups of cult films, like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and Attack of the Killer B's. But over the last two years or so the company's sense of humor has deepened: the Factory folks have shown that they're equally at home with silly spoofs like Beaver Hunt and Escape From the North Pole and with comedies unafraid to treat such tough topics as est-style encounter groups (Being at Choice) and dysfunctional kin (Nuclear Family). Talented actor-director Joey Meyer was one of the key voices in Factory's transformation from Annoyance wannabes to comic artists in their own right; his first stab at directing, Nuclear Family, earned the company long-deferred critical acclaim. Sadly, on May 21 of this year--just a few months after Nuclear Family opened--Meyer, only 28, died of complications due to AIDS. As a memorial, the Factory offers two benefit performances of Battleaxe Betty, Molly Brennan's marvelous genre-defying comic sword-and-sorcery rock musical--itself a prime example of how far Factory Theater has come since Sean Abley sat down with his VCR and transcribed Reefer Madness word for word, then tossed it on the stage. Proceeds will benefit Season of Concern as well as the Joey Meyer Factory Memorial Fund for the theater itself. Factory Theater, 1257 W. Loyola, 773-274-1345. July 24 and 31: Thursdays, 8 PM. $15 (includes refreshments). --Jack Helbig
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Patricia Sutherland.