About the closest thing we adults have to an oral tradition is chewing things over at the local tavern, the days of camp-fire story telling having long since passed. And Pretzelrod Productions' collection of monologues, Sweat Dreams, under the direction of Dorothy Milne, is like one of the best such nights you can imagine, swapping stories between rounds of Rolling Rock. One by one the seven Pretzelrod women deliver autobiographical, almost confessional monologues that are at once brutally honest and dazzlingly hilarious, touching frankly on anxiety over aging parents, the workaday miseries of motherhood, and the pleasures of masturbation. All the performers are accomplished actors who give winning, self-assured performances and all the monologues are compelling, but a few stand out: Jane Blass's "The Cheeping Bird Syndrome," in which she addresses the bitter loneliness and schadenfreude of a breakup; Martha Sanders's "The Big Orange Heavy," a hysterical, devastating account of being single, drunk, and unemployed with a fat, hungry cat to feed; and Milne's intelligent, humorous, candid "Sex, Slides and Celibacy," in which she confronts more than a decade's worth of relationships with thickheaded men. Like the best tavern storytellers, some of these tend to ramble on a touch or get overly theatrical. But the monologues that bear the stamp of truth enchant in us both the sympathetic drinking buddy and the voyeuristic gossip. At the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, Lab Theater, 3319 N. Clark, 327-5588. Open run: Mondays, 8 PM. $7.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Gregg Mierow.

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