Bartleby the Scrivener | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Bartleby the Scrivener 

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The titular copier in Herman Melville's short story is a polite but obstinate man. Asked to perform a task, Bartleby considerately replies, "I'd prefer not to." His boss can't fathom this eccentric behavior--and smartly, this stage adaptation by director Alexander Gelman and the Organic Theater Company ensemble doesn't seek to explain it. Instead the focus is Bartleby's impact on his mild-mannered, well-intentioned employer (Bryan Wakefield, brightly amusing). As part of the show's inventive, funny high jinks, the bothered boss has gained two clownish shadows who embody his agitation or soothe him. But while the physical comedy entertains, it also feels imposed on the text, especially since Melville's supporting oddballs are underutilized. --Jenn Goddu a Sun 3/25, 2 PM. Then Sat 3/31, 7:30 PM. Then Sat 4/7, 2 PM. Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, 800-595-4849, $22-$29, $66-$85 for all four plays (see organictheater.com).

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