Leopold! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Leopold!, WNEP Theater. Director Don Hall's latest "cavalcade of downright tomfoolery" revels in the random: Leopold! is a fast-paced hodgepodge of absurdist comedy sketches. Performers Clay Sander and Dave Bonde take on an array of odd characters who reappear throughout the show's many short, silly scenes. Sander is especially winning as Neil Diamond singing the hokeypokey, a Bed Bath & Beyond enthusiast, and a stereotypical southern lawyer more interested in mint juleps and fingering his suspenders than in interviewing the witness. Bonde is best in his scenes as a prim entomologist who believes that people should catch butterflies by spouting poetry; later he's forced to make his departmental budget proposal to a plate of fudge from the dean.

The individual scenes can be hit-and-miss, but overall this is an evening of self-aware, challenging theater. It's obvious that Leopold! is meant to throw the audience off if only because Abraham Lincoln (the expressive Patrick Brennan) is sitting off to one side watching with wonder and glee. The actors start out as belligerent audience members and tease us with false beginnings and endings; slide shows and Russian-accented voice-overs add another layer of obfuscation. Yet these deliberately disconcerting scenes are also deftly original.

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