Songs of the Pogo | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Songs of the Pogo

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Fans of the late Walt Kelly's long-running comic strip Pogo know what a keen ear Kelly had for the American vernacular and what a Joycean delight he took in playfully twisting the language until sense and nonsense were one; even the most familiar Christmas carols were transformed into absurdist hymns like "Deck us all with Boston, Charlie!" and "Good King Sauerkraut looked out on his feets uneven." Admitted Pogo-phile Frank Farrell collected a representative sampling of Walt Kelly's work, including 13 of Walt Kelly's best nonsense songs with music by Norman Monath, and selections from his humorous and autobiographical writings, and shaped it into a three-man musical-comedy revue starring Farrell, Jon Beliveau, and Ben Masterton. Recently moved from Club Lower Links to the Raven Theatre, the revue has lost none of its spark or charm in its transition from boho cabaret to the slightly more formal storefront theater space. If anything, Farrell, Beliveau, and Masterton seem more comfortable with Kelly's sometimes difficult language this time around, and they are more capable of wringing out every ounce of Kelly's subtle, intelligent wit than they were six weeks ago. At a time of rising illiteracy, when language is reduced to mere text or, worse yet, "verbiage," Walt Kelly's intensely literate, word-drunk wit is a rare delight. Raven Theatre, through August 16 (6931 N. Clark, 338-2177). Sundays, 7 PM. $10.

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

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