Big Blonde | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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"Hazel Morse was a large, fair woman of the type that incites some men when they use the word 'blonde' to click their tongues and wag their heads roguishly," says the opening sentence of Dorothy Parker's 1929 story "Big Blonde." Parker herself was small and dark; so is performer Shirley Anderson, who has adapted Parker's prose into a story-theater monologue. Actress's resemblance to author is apt, for Parker's own troubled life was the model for this chilling yet wickedly funny portrait of a "good sport" of a gal who drifts from relationship to relationship in a sea of whiskey, gradually sinking into suicidal melancholy; she's finally prevented from killing herself only by her own lassitude. While adorning her dark hair with a grotesque blond wig to depict Hazel's tragicomic efforts to keep up her physical appearance long after her spirit has died, Anderson underplays her character's husky, humorous exterior, opting for quizzical vulnerability to suggest the scared, approval-seeking child under the gay and sophisticated image cultivated by Hazel. Parker's surgically cutting wit is well served by her interpreter's dry, delicate delivery and by this 40-minute shows eerily apt barroom setting. Red Lion Pub, through March 13 (2446 N. Lincoln, 772-2815). Mondays-Wednesdays, 8:30 PM. $5.

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