Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) | Broadway Armory Park | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake) Closing (Theater and Galleries) The Short List (Theater) Image

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 20 2014

I was repulsed by this Jackalope Theatre production of Sheila Callaghan's dark comedy. Not in the sense of feeling queasy or disgusted—though those might be reasonable responses to a tale in which a maiming seems to put things right. No, I mean I felt pushed away by it. I kept bouncing off its coy, faux-naive surface. If you know Noah Haidle's Mr. Marmalade, you've got the general gist and feel of Callaghan's 2005 one-act. Instead of a four-year-old with an ugly family life and a hyperactive imagination, however, Callaghan gives us hyperimaginative 11-year-old Janice, whose family life turned ugly when her father died in a freak Christmas-tree-trimming accident. Now we're approaching the first Christmas after the accident, and Janice has gone into near-complete withdrawal. She holes up, unwashed, in her bedroom, arguing with her dolls, conjuring the N' Sync-era Justin Timberlake, and preparing concoctions involving Vaseline and Clorox. Meanwhile, her mother is an emotional wreck. Even the apartment they live in complains volubly. All, in short, is whimsy and dysfunction. Director AJ Ware and a solid cast do their best to endear themselves, but that may be a mistake. A meaner Crumble might feel more honest. —Tony Adler

Price: $20-$60

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