Barebones and Skin | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Barebones and Skin


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Barebones and Skin, Side Project, at the Side Studio. Under the wing of its artistic director and founder, Adam Webster, the Side Project has delivered another provocative success. Ten one-act plays, linked by their exploration of "the human condition at the peak of adversity," offer fleeting insights into failure and desire.

In Toby Burwell's The Two Sanest Men in America, the title characters live in an underground missile silo. Selected for their stability, then armed, each is charged with executing the other if he displays abnormal behavior. Who could live in such close proximity to the detonator that will bring on Armageddon without being tempted? In V.E. Kimberlin's Going to Grandma's, a man who's lost his lover to AIDS embarks on a heartbreaking road trip with his canine and feline "children," who behave like their ten-year-old human counterparts. And in Steven Young's Boiling Frog, it's September of 2001 and an arrogant boss and his fed up secretary carry on their power struggles and thankless tasks, ignoring warning signals even after the planes have struck.

Nineteen actors perform the works. All are good, some are great--such as Kris Sharma, playing Bogey the dog and a guy who hesitates to help a character who obviously needs something, but perhaps not the thing he's asking for; Elliott Fredland as a mousetrap manufacturer who argues that "persistence" is preferable to "improvement"; and Paul Joseph as the group's Michael Richards.

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