Southside | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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In her debut as a solo artist, writer-performer Dee Bolos treads some of the same ground as Mike Houlihan in Goin' East on Ashland, his hit one-man show about growing up in Chicago's Irish-Catholic enclave. But Bolos's perspective is distinctly female: clearly influenced by (and sometimes strikingly reminiscent of) Lily Tomlin, she focuses on the lives of schoolgirls and soccer moms in a series of sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant sketches. Her characters are misfits: "I don't want to live in a home that could realistically be carried away to another part of town on a flatbed truck," declares one, but her tone is more plaintive than rebellious. Ill at ease in their insular world, they're also a little too burdened with Catholic guilt to completely defy their upbringing. So they compromise--and the resulting inappropriateness and incongruity form the basis of Bolos's comedy. In one scene a sweet young woman blurts out at a family reunion that she's a lesbian; in another, a child plays "pimps and hos" with her Barbie dolls. A more serious sketch addresses domestic abuse, while in the show's outrageous climax, a PTA meeting turns into a vibrator raffle party. Bolos is an engaging comic, seemingly laid-back though her timing is sharp, and her often raunchy jokes are balanced by an appealing sweetness. Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, 773-342-6777. September 13-15: Friday, 9 PM; Saturday-Sunday, 7 PM. $5.

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

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