Night of the Mime, StreetSigns, at Strawdog Theatre. In a town glutted with alumni of Frank Galati's performance studies courses at Northwestern it was inevitable that sooner or later someone would spoof his techniques for adapting literature to the stage. StreetSigns, itself a longtime promulgator of these precepts, has found its vehicle in George Brant's parody of classic coming-of-age fables involving the death of a beloved animal companion (The Yearling, Old Yeller, Charlotte's Web, et al). Brant recounts the adventures of a young farm girl and the orphaned whiteface mime she adopts (played with touching hyperbole by the lanky George Fuller).
Director Derek Goldman ridicules the conventions of this form with relish. He sets the fictional novel's front copy to music (multiple-part vocal harmony), instructs the narrator to interrupt the dialogue with obtrusive she saids and he replieds, and bridges every scene change with ensemble activity--eccentric noises and grotesque postures in imitation of cerebral musings or just for the hell of it. Theatergoers not jaded enough to appreciate the inside gags will find plenty to amuse them in Brant's skewering of the genre and in the cast's poker-faced seriousness as they mock a theatrical fashion once innovative but now overdone--in these parts, anyway.
--Mary Shen Barnidge