Solopalooza | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Though solo performers are a dime a gross these days, this hasn't translated into a surplus of great shows. That's why Elisa DeCarlo's bracingly honest one-woman tragicomedy I Love Drugs is such a treat. Using the same format as Sherry Glaser's sweet but shallow Family Secrets--in which one woman plays all the members in an extended dysfunctional family--the New York-based DeCarlo avoids the easy laughs (no bits about nagging parents, 12-step programs, or silly siblings) and instead portrays each character with a vivid realism usually found in larger cast dramas. DeCarlo's depiction of the family's bloated, bullying, bigoted, bitter big daddy is absolutely searing. The funny thing is, for all her raw intensity, DeCarlo's still hilarious. But the laughter she inspires is not the cheap laughter of evasion and denial. Rather, it's the much rarer one of recognition--that there, even with the grace of God, go we. DeCarlo performs as part of the opening weekend of "Solopalooza," the annual festival of one-person shows, along with locals Antonio Sacre and John S. Connors. Friday and Saturday at 8 at the Chopin Theare, 1543 W. Division; $10 for one weekend, $17 for both weeks of the festival. Call 335-8026 for tickets and information. --Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.

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