The Vanity Project | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Vanity Project

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The Vanity Project, Handsome Theatrical Company, at Live Bait Theater. Jay Paul Skelton clearly has a solid bunch of friends; I'd be willing to bet that everyone connected with this evening of eight short Skelton-written pieces is his friend. Who else would agree to participate in a show that advertises its self-indulgence in the very title?

But then it's not always the office of a friend simply to agree. Sometimes a pal's got to be cruel to be kind. Skelton's friends might have done better to remind him that not everyone who comes to see this show will, in fact, be his friend. They should have told him that strangers seeking entertainment are unlikely to be charmed by his relentless pursuit of the cute. Neither will they love him enough to see the point in sitting through fragments from a longer play. Or to give a "that's our Jay" shrug in response to his ham-handed attempts at social commentary. Strangers won't want to be put in the position of having to cede anybody the benefit of the doubt. They'll want to be entertained.

Skelton's friends should have told him to keep these eight pieces to himself; to learn more, write more, and only put his work before strangers when he doesn't need an ingratiating title to excuse it. As for Skelton himself, he should be especially nice to Jennifer Biddle LaFleur, who demonstrates her friendship by making the pieces she's in look good.

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