Out of the Blue | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Out of the Blue

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Out of the Blue, Live Bait Theater. To borrow a phrase from officer Harry Strong, one of the many exuberant performers in this largely improvised piece, Live Bait's Police Teen-Link Program is a credit to pure inspiration. In the three years since its inception, new faces have emerged from the crowd as quickly as participants have left. But the ideal--fostering a discourse between the Chicago Police Department and youthful community members--has remained constant. And with each multilayered, character-based scene in the show, it becomes more evident how well improvisation works as a means of communication for kids and police officers alike.

Longtime improviser (and noncop) Neil McNamara is clearly the glue that holds Out of the Blue together: he's the one cast member who appears in both halves of this hour-long show, and he works his butt off to make everyone around him look good. But even without McNamara's support, the improvisations are generally on point. The best scenes reverse the status quo, as the adolescents and teens get to play authority figures. At these times, everyone in the cast seems most at ease, and Out of the Blue becomes a forum for pure-hearted expression by a group of equals.

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