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Strangulation...and other games we play

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Strangulation...and other games we play, Wig Theatre, at the O Bar and Cafe. Like so many of Chicago's non-Equity "companies," Wig Theatre is a group of friends who decided to put up a show in one of the city's low-rent basement venues. Though Wig is mostly made up of Annoyance Theatre members or actors who've performed at the Annoyance, here they've chosen to stage four contemporary one-acts with a range of humor and depth, in a vein quite different from the Annoyance's usual. The plays' recurring theme is love relationships--specifically, the shadow side of emotional intimacy. From Edward Allan Baker's Delores, in which two sisters confront their husbands' abuse, to Don Nigro's Something in the Basement, a wildly poetic yet truthful tale of a married couple who push each other's buttons to a disturbing degree, this evening showcases some good dramas and the actors' capabilities.

Nicely directed by Ellen Stoneking, these stagings usually manage to avoid basement-theater overacting. Especially provocative is Jonathan Browning's solo turn as Barney in Walter Rhodes's Between Maude and Mother Earth, a piece about a miner's love for his wife as he faces a cruel, gradual death. While Browning is obviously much younger than Barney, he gently and subtly finds the character's rich soul. Ironically the lightest piece in the show--David Ives's The Sure Thing--concludes the evening on a more predictable note.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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