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My Life in Pop

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MY LIFE IN POP: A THEATRICAL ESSAY ON POPULAR MUSIC IN CONTEXT, Lookingglass Theatre Company, at Live Bait Theater. There are stories that bear repeating. Father (husband, lover) suffers countless trials trying to return to family (wife, lover). Daughter (or son) leaves safety of home to explore world. Joy Gregory's extended one-act, which she wrote and directed, represents such an archetypal tale: young adult on the verge of a long-deferred maturity freaks, flees responsibilities, and returns to the womb of family.

Told with the wit and sweet simplicity that are the hallmarks of Lookingglass's best work (and utterly lacking in their worst), My Life in Pop follows a burned-out grad student at an unnamed Northwestern-like university who goes back to Ohio to find herself. Usually we hear this coming-of-age tale from the male point of view (see The Graduate), and it's thrilling to see it here from a different angle. In Gregory's world, it's men who are both scary and fascinating--signifying, as femmes fatales do in the boys' versions of this story, the heroine's ambivalent feelings about the scary, seductive world. Thomas J. Cox is particularly wonderful as the ultimate homme fatale, the motorcycle-riding, black-leather-clad Darkness Boy.

Also winning is the artful way Gregory (who's part of the local rock band Tart) weaves pop tunes of the last three decades into her story, using them to underscore the loss, nostalgia, and thwarted desire suffusing this funny, heartfelt script. --Jack Helbig

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