Need | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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When I saw Half Cocked Productions' quirky one-act about druggies, gangsters, and male bonding last year, I was impressed by writer-director Arik Martin's ability to shift between surreal farce and violent confrontation. On second viewing, Need wasn't as good as I remembered: it was a whole lot better. I realized that Martin has craftily assembled a parable of rebirth and redemption for the slacker generation: Glenn's three-day exile in a seedy apartment for a harrowing cold-turkey withdrawal recalls Christ's three days in the tomb (well, except for the nonstop porno viewing). But what really came into focus this time was the relationship between Glenn and his best friend, the perpetual fuckup (and perpetually fucked-up) Scottie. Both parts have been recast since last year, and Brian Daniel Sharpe as Glenn and Todd Pate as Scottie have a flawless chemistry that drives home Martin's central point: we don't know why we choose to love the people we do. Pate and Sharpe both have a vulnerability that makes their run-in with gangsters truly harrowing--they're basically nice kids who've made a lot of stupid choices. Gary Sugarman as Scottie's motormouth drug dealer nearly steals the show with his manic energy and perfectly timed obscene ripostes, John Wilson as society-page hoodlum Bridge oozes sociopathic charm, and J. Scott is just plain scary as Sick Fuck, Bridge's associate (and possibly more). Remarkably, the play's violence and obscenity don't detract from the bittersweet warmth of its conclusion. The Space, 4829 N. Damen, 773-297-2745. Through July 13: Fridays-Saturdays, 8:41 PM. $13; discounts available for people seeing Need and Bad-Ass & the Devil (see separate listing) the same night.

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