It's the end of the world at the Barbecue Apocalypse and nobody feels fine | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

It's the end of the world at the Barbecue Apocalypse and nobody feels fine 

Instead they're eating raccoons and trading grating put-downs.

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Zen Orchid Photography

Company's coming, and the house is a mess. Thirtysomethings Mike and Deb have no matching patio furniture, and their collective greatest accomplishments are the deck Mike built in the yard and a single published short story, the meager fruit of Mike's creative writing degree. Unable to cook and despairing of the central role a beanbag chair plays in their interior design concept, the hapless couple decides charring meat outdoors is the least humiliating way to entertain their friends. Adulting is hard. It's harder when your only friends are Win, an obnoxious bro who makes more money than you do, and hipster foodies Ash and Lulu. Oh, and Win is dating an actress named Glory who was born in 1996. The horror.

His characters having nothing better to do than insult each other openly (Win) or passive-aggressively (Ash and Lulu), playwright Matt Lyle introduces a deus ex machina poached directly from Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer-winning Skin of Our Teeth and designed as the ultimate wish-fulfillment vehicle for small-pond losers everywhere: yes, it is the apocalypse. Now that they're all eating raccoons with only Mike's short stories for entertainment, Ash and Lulu's impeccable style and Win's stock options no longer have any significance at all!

Though Lyle's finely attuned to the anxieties of suburbanites on their scramble toward the complacencies of middle age, the wittiest segments of his script are the put-downs, which soon begin to grate. Under Marc James's direction, the ensemble is shouty and overwrought.   v

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