Back in the Shadows Again & Again & Again | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Back in the Shadows Again & Again & Again 

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While other improv troupes assiduously avoid doing research, preferring the bloom of innocence to the hoary wit of wisdom, the Free Associates immerse themselves in whatever genre or author they're skewering. When they were performing their improvised one-act parody of Tennessee Williams, Cast on a Hot Tin Roof, everyone involved became something of a Williams scholar. This commitment has always paid off in the range, depth, and originality of their comedy. But recently their extracurricular work has produced an unexpected dividend: intense performances of the sort more serious actors would kill for. Their current show, Back in the Shadows Again: The Lighter Side of "Dark Shadows," is an eerily accurate re-creation of the cult 60s TV series Dark Shadows. (The Free Associates' story line even continues week to week, just like the old gothic soap opera.) When Joe Reilly glides in as vampire Barnabas Collins, he doesn't offer the usual cheap comic imitation of Jonathan Frid but a character as compelling and sympathetic as Frid ever mustered. Likewise Troy Martin as Quentin Collins--complete with trademark bad mod hair and toothy, empty leer--gives David Selby a run for his money. Now the actors put their endurance to the test in Back in the Shadows Again & Again & Again, a pre-Halloween marathon of 13 consecutive improvised Back in the Shadows Again episodes. Starting at midnight on Saturday, October 24, it runs into the morning of Sunday, October 25, with each episode expected to last 20 to 30 minutes. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 773-975-7171. Prices start at $13 at midnight and diminish by $1 for each new episode.

--Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.

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