Off the Wagon | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Off the Wagon

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This performance series, which shifts the Free Street Theater's focus from touting outdoor events to indoor shows at its home base, kicks off with two one-person works. Out Comes Butch, written and performed by David Schein, who recently succeeded the late Patrick Henry as FST's artistic director, marks Schein's Chicago performing debut. A founding member of the Iowa Theater Lab and the Blake Street Hawkeyes in Berkeley, California, and a longtime collaborator with former Hawkeye Whoopi Goldberg, Schein is a gifted actor and a fiendishly funny writer. Butch--one of the most stinging forays through the jungle of sexual politics since Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge--shows off his versatility (and his taste for the bizarre) to fine effect, hilariously tracing one person's search for personal fulfillment and political correctness. Schein's protagonist Butch goes from macho long-hair hard hat to mellow fellow to gay Castro clone to transvestite hausfrau to lesbian feminist womyn and back again; Schein so astutely distills and satirizes the last few decades' swerving ideological rhetoric that Butch emerges as a true everyperson for the wrung-out 90s. Butch is paired with La Vache Sauvage, written and performed by Dana Block, who was inspired to create this exploration of the links between flesh, feminism, and freedom when she saw a cow escape from a slaughterhouse and take refuge in a bakery. The "Off the Wagon" series continues through December 21; subsequent performances during the next five weekends will feature Theater Oobleck, the Last Ghetto Poets, Latino Chicago Theater Company, and FST's Free Street Too senior citizens troupe, among others. Free Street Theater, November 8 and 9 (441 W. North, 642-1234). Friday and Saturday, 8 PM. $7, "more if you have it, less if you don't."

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