1990 Off Off Loop Theater Festival | Festival | Chicago Reader

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1990 Off Off Loop Theater Festival

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Returning, after two years' hiatus, under the auspices of producer Doug Bragan's Douglas Theater Corp., this third not-so-annual event features 16 non-Equity companies in as many one-act plays, organized in programs of four. The selections range from experimental drama to camp melodrama to medieval farce to musical comedy to good ol' American naturalism. At the Theatre Building, through April 15. Saturdays, 2 and 7 PM; Sundays, 1 and 6 PM. $14-$19 per four-play program; "marathon tickets," good for one whole day (two programs), $27. Prices apply to advance sales; tickets purchased day of performance cost an additional $3. Tickets for single plays: $10 in advance; $12 at the door. The schedule is as follows:

OF ALL THE WIDE TORSOS IN ALL THE WILD GLEN; RECALLING THE REUNION; 5 VERY LIVE; PATHELIN First: The Collection performs Paul Peditto's comedy about an overweight playwright's journey into the world of liposuction. "One can't help but wonder, watching the last tedious half-hour, why Peditto decided to stretch this flimsy premise into a 50-minute one-act," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Second: Bailiwick Repertory sponsors the world premiere of Tim Ness's drama about a father and son digging for shared memories in a mental hospital; the production, directed by Mark Enos, "is nothing less than sublime," says Helbig. Third: BDI Theatre stages the world premiere of David VanMatre's satire on television news and sports; the "cast of six sharp comic performers . . . make the obvious seem subtle, and the subtle seem brilliant," says Helbig. Fourth: The Chicago Medieval Players perform this anonymous 15th-century comedy about a shyster lawyer, a crooked merchant, and a sly shepherd; Helbig calls the production "a plodding academic exercise." April 14, 2 PM.

SAVAGE IN LIMBO; THERE'S A RIGHT AND A WRONG WAY TO LOVE SOMEONE; I, BOBECK; VOLOKOLAMSK HIGHWAY First: Inn Town Players performs John Patrick Shanley's comedy set in a New York singles dive; the production is "undone by a number of slightly off performances," says Reader critic Jack Helbig. Second: Rimini Butler's drama about a teenager and his abusive mother was seen at last year's Chicago Young Playwrights Festival at Pegasus Players; Helbig calls the performances "consistent, well-crafted, if not particularly inspired." Third: Dan Sutherland's comedy about a clown trying to put his sullen teenager through a snobbish private school, a world premiere produced by Prop Theatre, is "an unflinching critique of the American dream . . . more disturbing than funny," says Helbig. Fourth: German playwright Heiner Muller's experimental "proletarian tragedy" for "an age of counterrevolution," subtitled "The Road of the Tanks," is performed by the Chicago Actors Ensemble; Helbig calls this a "dense, brooding production" notable for "the sheer intensity" of some of its dramatic moments. April 14, 7 PM.

SPRING DANCE; WAITING FOR BUDDHAT; GAS MASK 101; LADIES First: Cactus Theatre remounts its recent production of Horton Foote's study of life in a southwestern mental hospital; Reader critic Diana Spinrad says the play "has gained some of the edge it lacked" in its earlier production. Second: Hell is the waiting room of a casting agency in Dan Kobayashi's "lighthearted nightmare" with a supernatural theme, performed by Mina Sama-No (world premiere). "There are no surprises. The acting is uneven at best....Still, the company's dedication comes through the mediocrity," says Spinrad. Third: Arlene Cook's play, presented by Mary-Arrchie Theatre, is a coming-of-age story about college guys in 1970. "It's an unpretentious, funny slice of life....Every detail is right," says Spinrad. Fourth: Different Drummer's all-woman revue of songs by Cole Porter "is the most mainstream of the bunch....pure entertainment," says Spinrad. April 15, 1 PM.

OLD WIVES TALES; THE DRUNKARD; WHY THE LORD CAME TO SAND MOUNTAIN; OTTO First: Famous Door Theatre Company's sexual slapstick comedy, directed by fight choreographer Michael Sokoloff (world premiere), is "brutal farce" performed with "a passion and precision not often seen on Chicago stages," says Reader critic Diana Spinrad. Second: Musical Repertorie Theatre offers the first act of its current production (see regular theater listings). Third: God--a black female--visits a poor white Appalachian family in Romulus Linney's folk comedy, performed by Zebra Crossing. The play is "charming" and the staging "eloquently simple," says Spinrad. Fourth: Sean O'Meara and Michael Monaco's black comedy about "friendship, disease, landscaping, and cannibalism" is presented by Quando Productions. "Everything about this production is superb, from the dilapidated kitsch set to the horror lurking just beneath the hilariously bizarre humor," says Spinrad. April 15, 6 PM.

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

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