Darren O'Donnell | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Darren O'Donnell

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When Toronto-based writer and performer Darren O'Donnell hit Quimby's in October, he delivered a monologue from his ever-evolving one-man show A Suicide-Site Guide to the City, a theater piece that dramatizes one of his pet concerns: the breakdown of the boundary between audience and performer. He wasn't on a stage in the tiny bookstore, and the abbreviated bit he delivered didn't include any direct audience participation, but the partly improvised piece was electrifying--a far cry from your typically sleepy reading. His 2004 novel, Your Secrets Sleep With Me, is similarly interactive. The book's comic tale of kids on the caffeinated lam is peppered with second-person interruptions, in which the narrator exhorts the reader to really--I mean, come on, seriously--think about what you're doing, to look at the person next to you, and even, at a certain point, to "kiss yourself. . . . Just put this book down for a moment and kiss your own hand. Why not? What have you got to lose?" O'Donnell performs as part of the monthly "Dollar Store" series, for which each participant must craft a piece around a particular item from a dollar store. O'Donnell's inspiration is a plaque that says there's never enough time unless you're serving it. Joining him are Elizabeth Crane, working with a box of generic minoxidil, and Jeremy Sosenko, riffing on a fisherman's hat emblazoned with the words france, egypt and morocco. Jonathan Messinger hosts, with help from local comic Sean Gardner. Fri 6/3, 7 PM, Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, $1 suggested donation, 21+.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Troy O'Donnell.

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