The Curious Sofa | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

The Curious Sofa


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Experimentalism is the name of the game during the Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins theater festival, a weekend-long, insomnia-inducing marathon where hundreds of the city's novice and established theater artists gather annually to celebrate Hoffman's reckless spirit. Productions routinely vary in length and quality, but with over 60 straight hours of performances to choose from there are bound to be a few epiphanies--like the Hypocrites' adaptation of mordant pen-and-ink illustrator Edward Gorey's mildly pornographic novelette The Curious Sofa (written under one of his many anagrammatic pen names, Ogdred Weary). Not only does this ensemble-generated piece--which gracefully combines soggy Victorian melodrama with children's theater whimsy--stay true to the intent of the original work, but it zeroes in on the essence of Gorey's style and personal fixations. Modesty probably prevented Gorey, a huge theater buff and sometime set designer, from attempting to adapt it himself; and even if it hadn't, the 25-sentence story would seem an unlikely candidate for the stage. But Graney and his crack cast (Oona Kersey, Adam S. Moore, and Ryan Bollettino) have solved the problems of translation with an equally skeletal staging that features kewpie dolls, thrift store objects, and stuffed animals as participants in the story's peculiar bacchanal. That's right: the entire set and more than half the cast fit snugly into a picnic basket. Although the festival is infamous for its delays (the schedule never, ever corresponds with what's onstage at any given time), it's worth coming early and staying late for The Curious Sofa: it may be the most relentlessly clever 15 minutes to grace Chicago stages all year. Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company, Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan, 773-871-0442. August 17 through 19: Friday, 8:50 PM; Saturday, 9:40 PM; Sunday, 8:20 PM. See sidebar introduction for price information.

Add a comment