That's Weird, Grandma 

When: Open run: Mon 8 PM
Price: $5-$10
Late in Barrel of Monkeys' newest program of writing by Chicago elementary school students, an actress sings a fourth grader's list of things that once made him happy but are now gone forever. It's a simple, earnest, deeply affecting scene—and about the only moment in this cursory, slapdash 45-minute show when anyone appears to take the children's writing seriously. The rest of the time director Molly Brennan's cast play everything for cheap laughs, turning the sweet, unguarded texts into excuses for self-consciously hokey theater (and in two of the scenes, the kids' texts are jettisoned entirely). The uninventive staging, the perfunctory performances, and the incessant dumbing-down insult the intelligence of children and audience alike. —Justin Hayford


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