Tales from the Stinky Cheese Man | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Tales from the Stinky Cheese Man

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Tales from the Stinky Cheese Man, ComedySportz. Judging by the popularity of Jon Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales among young readers, it's destined to become a classic. In this 1992 book, Scieszka takes liberties with familiar stories such as "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Little Red Riding Hood," and "The Gingerbread Man," turning them into "unfairy tales" enhanced or interrupted by various metajokes about how books are structured or the power of the narrator.

This self-aware humor doesn't always translate well to the stage in Bob Ladewig's adaptation. Whereas in the book a table of contents falls on Chicken Licken, here she's pelted from backstage with peas and bowling balls, which makes the scene both random and abrupt. More successful is the running gag about a storybook prince who keeps calling on his cell phone, asking them to "hold the show" for him because he's royalty.

Kids should enjoy the silly characters--especially Dave Colan's giant and Matt Larsen's ugly duckling--but adults might find some of the actors' forced jollity grating. The amateurish costumes and sets (uncredited) miss the many opportunities for laughs that might arise from dressing adults as animals. Only 40 minutes long, the show doesn't have much momentum, but this may change when there's more than one kid in the audience.

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