Party | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Few plays justify their name like this deservedly popular gay comedy, now independently revived after a successful seven-month run at Bailiwick Repertory. David Dillon's raucous romp is a free-spirited, unashamedly explicit action portrait of seven gay male friends who gather to play Fact, Fiction, Fantasy, or Flip, a Truth or Dare-style game. A supple vehicle for carnal confessions, cuddling and kissing, telling anecdotes (including a plug for safe sex), and deliciously dishy dialogue (zinger witticisms launched by a wickedly wisecracking Ted Bales), the game quickly draws us into the action. It also draws the more or less magnificent seven out of their clothes. By the end, as you've probably heard, they're completely exposed--and it's no big deal. The comedy's signal achievement is to make the nudity natural, a visible symbol of the friends' emotional exposure. (The audience members end up feeling priggish for keeping their clothes on.) Dillon directs a sweet-tempered, completely charming cast--Bales, Nic Arnzen, Vince Gatton, Sal Iacopelli, Kellum Lewis, Robb Williams, and newcomer Clifford Broadway--who play so naturally together that you don't watch this show, you eavesdrop. Their achievement is to reveal a group of gay friends who--to the astonishment of some--can party hard without once contemplating suicide, playing a Judy Garland album, humping one another like rabbits, or converting some kid to homosexuality. Gail Grossman's stylish set is a great improvement over the original. What remains a problem is the 140-minute length, sans intermission; don't eat or drink much before seeing this. Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont, 327-5252. Open run. Fridays-Saturdays, 7 and 10 PM; Sundays, 7 PM. $17- $18.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/E.G. Pratt.

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