"Dinner with the Elams"
There are family music acts and family circus acts, but the family improv act is a rarity. "Dinner with the Elams" at
Eveleth (one of the city's strongest improvisers) was out of the country last week, with Josh Logan filling her spot, but the sense of connection and shared lives within this group is palpable, and the Elam siblings in particular seem eager to lovingly expose one another's childhood embarrassments and insecurities.
Scott, the youngest but most physically imposing of the three, took the brunt of it and good-naturedly so — yes, we now know in detail about his speech impediment as a child — but he is also the sharpest comedian of the bunch, with the most committed deadpan I have seen.
There's also a slightly evil side to their humor — and I mean that in a good way — when they gang up together, devising a scene that forced Logan to re-enact a bit of improvised dialogue over and over again. The fact that he was able to do it speaks to the kind of concentration improvisation demands, but beyond that, the group is just funny. "What's the thing you have to sign up for on
One note about iO: There was an issue with the stage lights not working that persisted for nearly half the show.
These things happen — but come on, iO, the performances and audiences deserve better.
Through May 31 at iO Theater, 3541 N. Clark St.; tickets are $12 at 773-880-0199 or ioimprov.com/chicago
"All Girl Moby Dick"
As is the case with
The atmosphere is briny and thick with discontented souls, served up like a platter of raw oysters, violently shucked.
And yet this may be the most restrained production yet from the Mammals, a company (led by writer-director
If the storytelling is a tad ponderous and not particularly clear (this unwieldy book has felled many an adapter, including the dull recent miniseries starring
What to make of the riot grrrl casting?
They bash around on a set from
And so one is left to simply admire these actors on their own terms, whether it is Christy Arington as the quintessential salty dog Stubb or Liz Chase's witty and earthy turn as the harpooner Queequeg.
Erin Orr does much of the heavy lifting as Ishmael, and when she utters that evocative line about the "damp, drizzly November in my soul; when I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses ... then I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can," you buy the vaguely comedic existential angst hook, line and sinker.
Through May 26 at Zoo Studios, 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave.; tickets are $20 at 866-593-4614 or chicagomammals.com