Red Noses | National Pastime Theater | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Red Noses Tickets Available The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Feb. 28 2009

Peter Barnes' left-handed salute to the power of theater is a 155-minute tonic. In this depiction of a medieval outbreak of the plague, laughter isn't the best medicine--it's the only one. A self-styled doctor, Father Flote (based on a real prelate), assembles a band of itinerant comedians who administer last laughs to their dying audiences. Desperate for a distraction from the Church's ineffective scapegoating, the Pope gives Flote his conditional blessing. But when the epidemic ends, Flote's buffoonery is suddenly considered subversive. The red-nosed zanies are viciously put down, along with their strange allies, the masochistic Flagellants and scavenging Black Ravens. Patricia Savieo's revival, the first here since Goodman Theatre’s 1987 local premiere, sends a very game 21-member cast into a whirlwind plot. If Barnes' angry eloquence gets short shrift in this overly peppy production, his merry word play, gallows humor, delightfully eccentric jesters, and wickedly topical satire come through just fine. --Lawrence Bommer

Price: $15-$20

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