Pigboy | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Like a lot of theater folks, Rick Hall comes from a small town; unlike a lot of theater folks, he doesn't hide his origins. In fact, he flaunts them in this interesting solo show, which brings the Improv Institute cofounder and onetime Second City actor back to Chicago from LA. Alternating between autobiographical monologue and character sketches, Hall invokes a youth spent among farmers and meat packers--guys like Rocky LeBlanc, who sported two rows of teeth, one behind the other (perfect for biting off an opponent's nose), and other colorful fellows Hall met while employed shooting pigs in the local slaughterhouse (thus the title). He also reminisces about the fantasy life that sustained him among the cornfields of central Illinois, where he daydreamed about rescuing endangered damsels from the terrible Kickacowpie Indians, whose arrows couldn't penetrate the superslick, ultrastiff jeans his mom made him wear. Another sequence celebrates the Baptist faith in which Hall was raised: a white minister remembers the day he united his town's two congregations--one black, one white--with the surprise help of the mostly Catholic fire brigade. Hall's a charming, direct speaker, intense enough to be interesting but low-key enough to be convincing, who truly seems not to be acting but rather to be sharing real events from a boyhood a lot of guys would have tried to forget. Improv Institute, 2319 W. Belmont, 929-2323. Opens Friday, June 10, 8 PM. Through June 25: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10.

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