The Telephone Pole Man | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Telephone Pole Man


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The Telephone Pole Man, Tribe, at Victory Gardens Theater. We never see the title character, though descriptions identify him as "pierced, poked, and punctured" on his modern cross. We do see the profound effect he has on the witnesses to his agony: a newspaper deliveryman goes postal, two skateboarding slackers go straight, a cancer-riddled matron finds new life, and an art grabber buys the crucified martyr for his private collection.

Every young playwright creates something like The Telephone Pole Man--its text crammed with ideas, motifs, and influences (in this case, Albee, Ionesco, and Shepard). But under Keith Geller's direction, Carey Friedman's welter of social satire, youthful exuberance, and Joycean lyricism is given shape and panache by actors anchored firmly in each slippery moment. They're assisted by a bevy of complicated gizmos and stunts--video screens, distorted audio montages, skin lesions the sufferer rips off in a spontaneous recovery, ingenious props and costumes (including a suit that replicates itself so the wearer can never remove it), and even a gratuitous Jackie Chan-style fight. The results are deja vu, but care has obviously gone into this debut production.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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