Sculpture in Vitro: Growing Up Female in the Age of Liposuction | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Sculpture in Vitro: Growing Up Female in the Age of Liposuction

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Despite the subtitle, Molly McNett and Shirley Anderson's wise and witty show, first produced last summer at the Prop Theatre, speaks volumes to anyone, female or male, interested in breaking the media-created consensus trance about body image. Combining elements of satire and autobiography, this wickedly funny five-person revue examines the myriad ways adolescent girls are told by family, friends, and the media that they are not good enough or thin enough or worthy of love. Stephanie Howard's spritely stage rendition of a women's magazine's "helpful hints" for dealing with an overweight child (whom the magazine refers to as "old fatty") reveals the article's latent cruelty even as it parodies that fake, Kathie Lee perkiness women are expected to adopt on television. Anderson's painfully honest reminiscences about her bouts with binge eating are moving partly because she doesn't balk at showing us the whole picture: her shame, her isolation, the all-too-fleeting comfort of a good binge followed quickly by shame and shame-induced isolation. Especially eye-opening is a sequence in which Dan Sauer, playing a plastic surgeon lecturing on liposuction, reveals the shallow, self-serving, and misogynist aesthetic behind his "service" to womankind. In an age of increasingly timid theater, it's liberating to see Anderson and McNett attacking such commonly held but impossible and destructive standards of perfection. At Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 871-1212. Through December 18: Mondays-Wednesdays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 3 PM. $8.

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