Eleven Dollar Prophet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Eleven Dollar Prophet

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Antonio Sacre's lighthearted autobiographical tales about growing up in a half-Latino, half-Irish-Catholic family have made him popular on the school and library circuit. And his more challenging shows, like last year's My Penis--In and Out of Trouble, are popular in hipper venues, like the New York International Fringe Festival (where he's performed four years running). But with success comes megalomania--or at least the threat of it. There's nothing like standing alone onstage, the sole focus of dozens, perhaps hundreds of people, to really mess with your self-image. That ego inflation--and the identity crisis that goes with it--is the subject of Sacre's latest show, about a solo performer who believes he may be the Messiah. At first Sacre approaches this subject humorously: what adolescent hasn't identified so strongly with Jesus that he wanted to become him? But then Sacre wades into the deeper waters of this intelligently written, painstakingly researched (his Bible scholarship is impressive), passionately performed piece, apparently convinced that he's come to earth to redeem us. At times he seems nothing more than an updated version of the lovable crazy who believes he's Jesus Christ in Peter Barnes's 1968 dark comedy The Ruling Class. But happily Sacre has not gone off the deep end; rather, he and his director, Jenny Magnus, are making a point about the intersection between art and religion, between spiritual healing and the secular healing that artists sometimes perform. And at the end, I felt the same redemptive glow I used to feel sometimes when leaving mass as a teenager. Friday, September 29, 10 PM.

--Jack Helbig

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