Bedlam | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Bedlam, Aha! at Bailiwick Repertory. Daniel J. Farragut is an unsuccessful conceptual artist struggling to find an audience for his ambitious, oddball performance works. Neglected as a small child, he looks for the attention he never received from his mother in a string of ill-fated relationships with wealthy and effete artist types who are willing to support his endeavors. But he's unlucky at love and even unluckier at life.

That's the premise of writer-director Andrew Eninger's new comedy, Bedlam, which combines scripted material and audience interaction and earns high marks for ambition. Its complex narrative leaps back to ancient Egypt and flashes forward 95 years, weaving together the lives of crooning pharaohs and eccentric drapery magnates. When Eninger isn't trotting out stale gags and corny one-liners, his script manages to offer some wry commentary on the ridiculousness of art in the face of fickle tastes.

Unfortunately the few attempts to incorporate suggestions from the audience and to involve members directly by bringing them onstage are pretty feeble. The troupe doesn't improvise around the gimmicks well enough to justify the interruptions. And with each of the six ensemble members mugging and whoring for laughs, the comedy dissipates faster than air from a punctured balloon. --Nick Green

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →