Little Critters | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Little Critters

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LITTLE CRITTERS, Lucid Theatre Productions, at the Preston Bradley Center for the Arts. Jean-Marc Gauthier's colorful, childlike paintings--the inspiration behind Ellar Wise's one-person play--depict mischievous creatures with distended limbs, twisted torsos, and multiple heads. Bringing these figures to life, Wise imagines them in a group home-cum-penal colony, where they cavort under the watchful eye of Mister Louis. Roger sits atop headless Marcel's shoulders and guides him around the house all day as if he were an elephant; nameless separated Siamese twins (with one arm and one leg apiece) wander the halls providing indiscriminate sexual gratification to the other residents; and Cubby, the quadriplegic narrator, carves wooden sculptures with an artificial arm sharpened to a razor point.

Though filled with imagination and promise, Little Critters hardly develops beyond a taxonomy of deformities and a litany of misadventures. Scott Rowe as Cubby displays an engaging physical grace but spends most of his time either manufacturing impish glee or reliving emotionally charged moments--like many solo performers, he forgets to tell the story. Director Kay Cosgriff encourages him to indulge in distracted, preadolescent avoidance behavior; he seems to be killing time waiting for something interesting to happen, a strategy that drains the work of all dramatic urgency. Rowe ends up idling his way through a series of largely unconnected illustrated moments.

--Justin Hayford

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