There comes a time in some artists' careers when they unmistakably arrive. They may have been toiling away for years producing solid, even impressive work when suddenly the fullness of their potential is realized. It happened to Beau O'Reilly when he wrote The Third Degrees of J.O. Breeze, Larry Steger when he produced The Swans, and now it's happened to Edward Thomas-Herrera. He's been performing ever since 1992 as the world-weary dilettantish Edwardo, a pursuer of the perfect martini and the mot juste. And while he's often shown his comedic brilliance and literary acumen, his acerbic flippancy now carries a new weight. In the ingenious 50-minute solo piece Cocktail Confidential, he digs beneath the party-boy facade to find a deep spiritual ache--though it's apparent only briefly, when the facade slips. Technically this is the same piece he did a year and a half ago at Live Bait: emerging from Mrs. Dorothea Byford-Shipman's "elegant art deco fantasy bathroom," Edwardo minces through a terminally uninteresting soiree in a Lake Shore Drive penthouse, relying upon his ability to "Osterize trivia from two-thirds of a graduate school education" to charm the crustiest of the upper crust. But under David Kodeski's thoughtful direction, Edwardo has slowed down just enough to connect with all the feelings of inadequacy he usually brushes aside. Thomas-Herrera spares us the breakdown scene that other performers might have been unable to resist, but his feelings form a kind of emotional floor that supports Edwardo's unexpected introspection. Without losing an ounce of Edwardo's extravagance, Thomas-Herrera's persona is suddenly human. Who would have thought that years of jaded superficiality would lead to such depths? Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 773-871-1212. Through February 25: Fridays, 8 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Suzanne Plunkett.