Doris | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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"I'm very big in western Australia," David Kodeski jokes. His rise to Aussie fringe prominence began last May in Chicago, when he learned that his application for a $30,000 grant had been rejected. "That's a year's salary for people like me," he says. "I was pissed. But I thought, 'At least I can go to a fucking fringe festival.'" Submission deadlines for the major events in New York and Edinburgh had already passed, but then he stumbled on Perth: "What I didn't realize is, it's the most remote capital I could have picked." Accepted there, Kodeski scraped together a few thousand bucks and headed halfway around the world with Another Lousy Day, one of his signature "True Life Tales." This solo show--based on diaries by a Zenith factory worker that Kodeski found in a junk shop--played to packed houses and was crowned best of the fest. A few months ago, the Perth International Arts Festival flew him back for a three-city tour of his most recent piece, I Can't Explain the Beauty, assembled from the diaries of a Depression-era tree surgeon. International success hasn't kept Kodeski down under, however: this weekend he's performing the first "True Life Tale," the 1996 Doris, at the PAC/edge festival. In this elegant, deceptively simple piece, he reads verbatim excerpts from interviews he conducted with a 92-year-old woman, the daughter of a Methodist preacher. Doris had a seemingly unremarkable upbringing--her evasion of a forward suitor is one of the show's dramatic high points--and settled into a lifelong career in social services. But like his literary hero Studs Terkel, Kodeski finds unaccountable intrigue and beauty in the mundane, and his wry, sensitive performance evokes the woman's rich humanity. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 773-722-5463. Through April 11: Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 10 PM; Sunday, 6 PM. $15.

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