Six months after its original run at Live Bait, Rick Almada's one-man show is tighter, cleaner, sharper--and as baffling as ever. Among his blunt, charmless, self-important characters are a sauced would-be pugilist trying out his pickup lines in a singles bar, an infomercial host peddling do-it-yourself everything, and a failed local business leader telling a graduating class just how bleak its prospects are. Yet Almada's exquisitely subtle performance brings out the aching hearts in all his creations, while his unconventional imagery gives the brain ample food for thought. How all these pieces tie together, or why Almada ends the evening stuffed in a futuristic silver contraption, is anyone's guess. But in a city where most comedy is self-evident and unimaginative, it's refreshing to leave the theater delighted and mystified. Mary-Arrchie Theatre, Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan, 773-871-0442. February 7 through March 1: Fridays-Saturdays, 9:30 PM. $10. --Justin Hayford
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Martin Musker.