Tales of the Lost Formicans | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Tales of the Lost Formicans


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TALES OF THE LOST FORMICANS, Wing & Groove Theatre. Constance Congdon's wry, absurd tragicomedy assumes that the truth is not out there but right here, imagining a family of earthlings and their friends as seen through the eyes (or whatever) of extraterrestrials. And in their delightfully bewildered view, American culture takes on a saving strangeness.

Centuries after the earthlings--the "lost Formicans"--become extinct, the extraterrestrials divulge their research in a lecture-demonstration: the play itself. Sorting out our idiocies from our sorrows, the play takes semiseriously those tabloid tales of UFOs snatching humans and subtly altering their lives. Standing in for the human race are a troubled family and their unhappy neighbors, wrestling with such crises as marital infidelity, one-sided love affairs, alienated teenagers, galloping paranoia, depression, masochism, and Alzheimer's disease. It's a marriage of the Coneheads with the Book of Job.

Tales of the Lost Formicans proves once again what fools these mortals be. The trick is to find the humanity in Congdon's pungent postmortem. Andrew Gall's revival has charm, warmth, and momentum enough to give this one-trick pony variety and depth. Particularly fine is Amy Tourne, showing true grit as the woman bereft of a husband and beset with a demented father, tortured mother, runaway son, miserable best friend, and paranoid boyfriend. --Lawrence Bommer

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