Bobrauschenbergamerica | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Playwright Charles L. Mee and SITI Company director Anne Bogart celebrate the life and vision of 20th-century pop artist Robert Rauschenberg by presenting them the way he most likely would: as a collage, giving this piece the same color, irony, and jagged edges the artist favored in the eclectic "combines" for which he's most famous. This energetic arrangement of biographical tidbits, character sketches, chicken jokes, and poetry by the likes of Jack Kerouac and Walt Whitman feels as American as Norman Rockwell. Yet the America that Mee, Bogart, and Rauschenberg illuminate is more honest and inclusive, exhibiting not only optimism and homespun simplicity but also decadence (two people bodysurf in a martini puddle), violence, and complicated love. Knowledge of Rauschenberg's work--or Mee's, for that matter--is not required; fans and novices alike will leave the theater with a deep appreciation for both. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 773-722-5463 or 312-902-1500. Opens Thursday, October 17, 7:30 PM. Through October 20: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $29-$35.

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