Skeptics | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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"Dangerous" is the operative word in this sense-assaulting multimedia performance--though the word's meaning pitches back and forth throughout the production like a ship caught in a violent storm. "I got dangerously close to learning something" is the mantra repeated by each of the eight teenage performers in Skeptics--and the danger zone seems to be the American educational system. Ironically, the less structure these high school-age characters have, the more education they get--and learning is the ultimate tool for self-actualization, a fact underscored by a recurring image of the actors studiously reading from the stacks of books resting on either side of the stage. But from the moment they enter a school's labyrinthine hallways, all the usual adolescent concerns--from suicidal impulses to the questioning of our earthly purpose--start creeping out of the woodwork to threaten them. Skeptics represents two important firsts for MadJoy Theatrics, formerly TeenStreet: it's the first ensemble-generated piece, written under the tutelage of director Ron Bieganski and Bryn Magnus, to be staged under this brand-new performance arm and the first production to incorporate video footage the teens created themselves. But the ultimate effect remains much the same as in TeenStreet shows: this is mind-bending multifaceted theater that tackles the great leap from adolescence to adulthood with jaw-dropping sophistication and courage. Free Street, Pulaski Park, 1419 W. Blackhawk, 773-772-7248. Through May 18: Friday, 7 PM; Saturday, 2 PM. $10.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Anita Evans.

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