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Critic's Choice/ theater

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Brown and Black and White All Over

Storyteller Antonio Sacre excels at revealing the deeper meaning behind even mundane moments--lunch with a parent, a chance meeting at a party. He can transform a mildly funny reminiscence about feeling awkward as an adolescent at a dance into a life-changing moment. So what happens when he tackles something intended to be a huge transformative event? Here it's a multiracial Robert Bly-style men's-group meeting deep in the northern California woods, attempting to heal the wounds of racism and poverty through group therapy and ritualistic faux-Indian drumbeating. In the hands of a more satiric storyteller, of course, this would be excellent fodder for mocking the excesses of the human potential movement. But Sacre has come not to mock but to praise. And his sincere, urgent account--chronicling the whole weekend, angry confrontations, therapy breakthroughs, and all--is surprisingly moving, in part because Sacre, revealing his gifts as a mimic, takes a backseat to his cast of characters: black, white, and Hispanic teenagers and their equally diverse adult mentors. He also wisely avoids the temptation to deliver long speeches or pontificate (though sometimes his characters do in some of the evening's slower sections). Instead, in a very pointed moment, Sacre announces that he's going to deliver some easy answers to the racial and ethnic tensions tearing our country apart, then gives us several tense minutes of silence. Lunar Cabaret, 2827 N. Lincoln, 773-296-2296. Opens Thursday, July 30, 8 PM. $20 (benefit for the show's engagement at next month's New York International Fringe Festival). Through August 3: Friday-Saturday, 10 PM; Monday, 8 PM. $10.

--Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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