Memoirs: A Theatrical Concert of Reminiscences | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Memoirs: A Theatrical Concert of Reminiscences

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MEMOIRS: A THEATRICAL CONCERT OF REMINISCENCES, at Voltaire. Like his delightful "Gallimaufry" series, in which a chosen theme fueled occasional evenings of song and story, Frank Farrell's new offering is a theatrical collage of confessions delivered by a rotating roster of actors. The material changes weekly, but overall this is an ongoing oral history drawn from the actors' own stories and the writings of such worthies as John Updike, Anais Nin, and Mark Twain.

Though the material in the first installment ranged widely in quality and delivery, the 75-minute evening offered some impassioned storytelling, from Farrell's ardent rendition of Updike's recollections of movie mania to Richard Henzel's harmonica-playing, talking-blues treatment of Twain's story about working a punch press. Scattered throughout the audience, the actors came forward to deliver memories of dirty tricks endured on prom night, speculations on the power of Saint Anthony to find lost objects, awesome recollections of being an extra in the new Godzilla film (cars on hydraulic lifts bounced up and down an entire city block), and richly detailed reminiscences from a child radio star. Dryly, Henzel delivered put-downs of "great men" from R.C. Wilson Jr.'s Street Guide to Gary, Indiana.

If sporadically the remembrances were stiff, they were also incontestably direct and unfiltered. This easy sharing makes for a mercurial and, well, memorable evening. --Lawrence Bommer

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