Bruises, Worms, and Bared Soles | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Bruises, Worms, and Bared Soles 

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Bruises, Worms, and Bared Soles, Stagerage, at Strawdog Theatre Company. The press release for this evening of one-acts was bizarrely smug, down to the quotes from writer-director Andrew O'Brien ("I was actually in the 6th grade when I came up with the idea of the spirit worm"). The odds seemed good these comedies would be vivid if nothing else. But only publicists can be so hilarious with so little effort: these are flimsy, underwritten exercises in futility, one-joke wonders spun from half conceits that couldn't support three Saturday Night Live-sized sketches, let alone an hour-long show lengthened by an unnecessary intermission.

Slightest is the opener, Worms, a Zoo Story-like bit where a not-very-menacing outsider and a not-very-uptight square halfheartedly argue about some tritely tripped-out philosophy. Bared Soles, a would-be romantic romp, boasts a rudimentary punch line, but the punny title gives away what feeble humor lies in wait. (It's about a foot fetish, get it? He gave her some thongs, get it?) And while the "headliner," Bruises, actually manages a kind of Heathers-y allegory, it's a really, really stupid one, with an ugly climax that's weakly shocking--gentle viewers take note--without being particularly funny. The performers are all OK, but they haven't a chance against this material. I'm afraid I didn't laugh once.

--Brian Nemtusak

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