Bedlam | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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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

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