The Family Mascot | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

The Family Mascot


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


The Family Mascot, at Cafe Voltaire

In her one-woman show, Kathryn Farley has a lot to say about growing up in an alcoholic family: about the diminished emotional relationships, the cycles of blame and guilt, the frustration of trying to get family members to realize how they contribute to the whole damn dysfunctional mess. Unfortunately, Farley does not seem to have the skills as a writer or performer to make what she knows interesting theater.

Conceived as a presentation by the self-deluded author of a singularly unhelpful self-help book called "Side by Side: The Traits of a Successful Family," The Family Mascot depends for much of its humor on the fact that Farley recommends various unhealthy coping strategies--massive doses of denial, for instance--as a way to have a happy family. But her wit is so dry and understated that what seemed funny on the page (Farley quotes herself assiduously in her press packet) seems serious onstage, a quality accentuated by her lackluster performing style.

Since almost none of Farley's humor comes through, we're left with an evening's worth of useless bromides intercut with painful family memories recounted as if they were real knee-slappers.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →