When Loser's Alias premiered 11 years ago, the Curious Theatre Branch occupied a cramped North Avenue storefront, where it produced intricate, frenzied extravaganzas at a furious pace that left little time for revision. If a play didn't work, if its ideas were dense and muddled, the company was too busy with the next show to worry about fixing it. The rock-and-roll comic saga Loser's Alias was one of Bryn Magnus's more confused epics, although the story held great promise. Joey Tarmack Spittleform, wrestling promoter and shameless showman extraordinaire, becomes locked in a battle with Feral Mobile, head of the Commission for the Legitimacy of Professional Wrestling. Mobile and his commission are out to drain the entertainment from wrestling, transforming it into a well-behaved "real sport," so Spittleform mounts one final monstrous match to preserve his vision of muscle ballet. It's a parable worth retelling, as American culture increasingly quashes any enterprise that can't be commodified and franchised. With more than a decade to rethink the work, Magnus has heightened the emotional reality of his main characters and toned down the assaultive energy that overwhelmed his first production. By producing the play, Theater on the Lake not only gives Curious a chance to remount one of its early, seminal works but sets an important precedent. Considering the creativity of the adventurous Curious writers and the storehouse of scripts they've developed in the last 15 years--over 50 original shows--it's time other, more established companies took notice. Theater on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, 312-742-7994. Opens Wednesday, July 12, 8 PM. Through July 16: Thursday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 4 PM. $10. --Justin Hayford
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chris Dimock.