The Fall from Precious | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Fall from Precious

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The Fall From Precious, at Cafe Voltaire.

Someone should manufacture a Rena Malin doll. Not the cuddly but cloying kewpie she was in last year's one-woman show, Act Like a Lady, and not the poreless plastic Barbie whose sordid secrets Malin reveals in one of the 21 short monologues in her latest solo venture, The Fall From Precious. No, the Rena Malin doll must combine both these images to convey the shy awkwardness and ingenuous honesty of the gamine who narrates this funny, intimate journey through socialization, sexual awakening, and the first glimmerings of independence.

Some of the material is repeated from Act Like a Lady, including Malin's delightful account of how she single-handedly intimidated, Eddie Murphy-style, a pack of rude frat boys. But the best parts of this show reflect a more mature, if still vulnerable, sensibility: the scar--resulting from an accident with the bathroom radiator--that suddenly becomes rather sexy, the gentleman who refuses to divest her of her virginity and the cad who doesn't refuse, a conversation with a septuagenarian celibate who tells the astonished young woman, "You are a woman and I am not."

Much of the credit must go to savvy director-dramaturg Nancy Scanlon for making The Fall From Precious the sleek, cohesive product it is. But if Malin's progress from last year to this is any indication, there are as-yet-untapped resources in her, just waiting for their owner to discover that a kitten can grow up to be a tiger.

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