The Pup at Theatre: Hidden Surprise Shows | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Pup at Theatre: Hidden Surprise Shows

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You might not know it from watching Brett Neveu's puppet show The Pup At Theatre, but he's one of Chicago's best unproduced playwrights. Then again, after seeing a show this artfully awful, this vivaciously vacuous, you might guess its creator had some talent. The Pup's concept is simple: it's the most pretentious, poorly executed puppet show imaginable. Performers Neveu and Eric C. Johnson adopt stern, artsy expressions while tearing through an hour's worth of inspired insipid skits: a panda worrying about swallowing too much toothpaste, a bunny and a cow dancing to REO Speedwagon at the prom, a marauding porcelain hand terrorizing people with gentle taps. Their puppets are in varying states of decay and disrepair, and everything is wrong, from the line readings to the character voices to a spiritless Robert Plant impersonation. Yet it's wrong in new, surprising, and hysterical ways. Now in its third incarnation, the show has grown leaner and stupider over the years. Perhaps some day a Chicago producer will take a peek at Neveu's legitimate plays, which are good enough to rival most anything on a local stage. But for now, we'll have to settle for this masterful disaster. Hi Ricky Upstairs--West Loop, 941 W. Randolph, 312-491-9100. Open run: Thursdays, 8 PM. $6. --Justin Hayford

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