Dog Tales | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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DOG TALES, at Live Bait Theater. Jim Carrane is a funny guy, yet his one-man show made me sad. The program describes all the pieces in this year's "Fillet of Solo" series as "portraits of characters in transition," but this man is plain stuck, uncomfortable in his adolescent existence yet unable to make the leap into adulthood. That in itself might be an interesting subject, but Carrane becomes long-winded and obsessive as he makes his case against growing up.

The title of his 1992 hit, I'm 27, I Still Live at Home and I Sell Office Supplies, says it all. Now the poor man is pet-sitting. And the North Shore family he's working for makes adulthood seem a sorry prospect indeed. The dad is the worst: punitive, bossy, and uptight, he gives Carrane a printout of instructions dozens of pages long, an act that fills Carrane with contempt--yet his detailed attack on the man makes Carrane sound almost as mean-spirited. He also stacks the deck against maturity by ridiculing his own efforts at "self-actualization" and self-help, but clearly he's no carefree Peter Pan.

Carrane has a definite comic gift: his impersonation of an iguana is priceless, as are such flights of fancy as imagining himself the reptile's waiter. But he also seems stuck in the improv mode, going for immediate laughs rather than a sense of development and a real ending. As a result Dog Tales is just another shaggy-dog story.

--Laura Molzahn

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