Tsarovia! | Hungry Brain | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Tsarovia! Closing (Theater and Galleries) Recommended The Short List (Theater)

When: Tuesdays, Wednesdays. Continues through June 3 2009

I'd be willing to bet that R.J. Tsarov is an insomniac. It's not just that he gravitates to subjects and settings people with insomnia know more about than the rest of us, like late-night infomercials, poison control call-in centers, and the bad accidents you can have when you get careless with vacuum cleaners. It's also the manic, absurd sensibility--exhausted yet wired, hard-bitten yet hallucinatory--that comes through the eight short, mostly presentational plays offered here in two programs on separate nights by Citizens' Relief. One noirish piece chronicles the modest rise and hard fall of a door-to-door moth-trap salesman; another takes therapeutic visualization one surreal step too far; a third recounts a woman's descent into crime as she tries to pay for the new epidermis she's bought from a fly-by-night skin company. And of course there's the two-hander about insomniacs who find each other via an infomercial, with comically disastrous results. I'm used to seeing idiosyncratic works like Tsarov's performed by cool but inadequate ensembles in incommodious settings. The members of Citizens' Relief are skilled, talented, and incredibly smart about this playwright, though, having mined his material since 2005. Both programs would be delightful performed in any off-Loop theater at the going rates, but I have to admit there's an extra, weary sweetness in nursing a bourbon in a dark bar on a weekday evening, watching artists playing real good for free. --Tony Adler

Price: donations encouraged

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