Actual Theatre | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Actual Theatre, Bare, at WNEP Theater. Shaun Himmerick and Fuzzy Gerdes are like the college roommates whose interactions made their buddies groan, "There they go again!" or "Knock it off, you two!" In Actual Theatre this duo--supposedly what's left of the original Bare Essentials Theatre, based in Denver--propose to explore "the real relationship of two real friends through fictional characters" during an hour-long improvised show.

After a montage of three-second blackouts establishing the personalities of bookish Gerdes and boisterous Himmerick, the two present us with a series of sketches, most involving the eager Himmerick pushing the hesitant Gerdes into some action--walking to their destination after wrecking the car, for example--revealed to us in medias res. Even when a scene seems premised on Gerdes being dominant, as when he plays child psychologist to Himmerick's pint-size pyromaniac, the former's cuddly-toy reticence allows the latter, by virtue of his size, vocal power, and cute falsetto shrill, to assume focus.

The sketches are bridged by creepy clown music and anecdotes recounting--you guessed it--Gerdes and Himmerick's youthful adventures. As directed by Don Hall, Actual Theatre takes a leisurely, banal-as-real-life approach that doesn't give potential patrons much reason to venture out for a late-night show.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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