Bad-Ass & the Devil | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Bad-Ass & the Devil 

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There's no rest for the wicked. After turning the Space into a blast furnace last spring with his pitch-black comedies Serendipity and Need, Chicago playwright Arik Martin is bringing back Bad-Ass & the Devil for a weekend of benefit performances. There are echoes of Tarantino in the play's glib dialogue ("Respect for the language is no small matter," comments manic physician Bill), and its structure--90 percent of the action takes place in a compact car--offers a sly nod to Hitchcock's Lifeboat. But make no mistake, Martin's way of building tension and terror in this road-trip tale is all his own. A masterful cast--Gary Sugarman, John Wilson, and J. Scott--reprise their roles from the show's initial Half Cocked Productions run last fall; time away has only deepened their performances. It's impossible to tell who's truly in the driver's seat--Sugarman as the high-strung doctor or Wilson as the hitchhiker--along this blood-soaked stretch of Middle American highway. Martin's venomous dialogue offers all sorts of epiphanies the first time around, but the script's barrage of double and triple entendres needs to be heard twice to be fully savored. The Space, 4829 N. Damen, 773-297-2745. August 3 and 4: Friday, 8 PM (followed by free reception); Saturday, 7 and 10 PM. $15 (bring your own refreshments); the performance is a benefit for the production's upcoming engagement at the New York International Fringe Festival.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Reid Paxson.

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