Alphabet Soup | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Few things hold the attention more effortlessly than a baby, and Barrie Cole's dimpled ten-month-old is no exception. So it's a testament to the charm, intrigue, and joie de vivre of Cole's and Julie Caffey's hour-plus performance that I spent most of it oblivious to the child even though she was attached to Cole's left nipple. In this first installment of Alphabet Soup, the pair's initial "quarterly report" on a yearlong project that involves writing about one letter of the alphabet each day, they mostly free-associate words beginning with a particular letter until one triggers a memory from childhood or early adulthood. But their playful, fluid, and at times absurd musings are packed with evocative imagery. "'A' is for 'all together,' like fishermen coming up from the beach," Caffey reads. For "F," Cole recites a list of things some people consider fun, including "hitting a guitar over and over again with a metal cup." Although both performers read only a portion of the texts piled before them, the performance feels a good 15 minutes too long; still, flights of fancy can hit the spot on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Through 4/24: Sun 3:30 PM. Prop Thtr, 3502-4 N. Elston, 773-764-8399. $15 or "pay what you can."

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