Eric Bogosian | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Eric Bogosian 

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Not since Lenny Bruce have I encountered a performer who explores moral ambiguity with such sardonic charm and abrasiveness as monologuist Eric Bogosian. His new piece, Dog Show (directed by Jo Bonney), is aptly titled: a slick, vigorous entertainer, Bogosian is like a show dog confidently performing his tricks for an admiring audience--but he's not above snapping at the hand that applauds him. This program of skillfully etched, rawly comic, sometimes scatological character sketches--a menagerie of urban animals howling at the city primeval--barks and bites at the pretensions and presumptions of the with-it elite. One moment Bogosian is himself, challenging his fans' smug responses and questioning his own ethical responsibilities. The next he's a louse-infested street person haranguing subway riders about the infectious potency of his own ooze--the kind of guy most people in real life would avoid like the plague he embodies, but boy, they love him on the stage. Then he's a "recovering male" searching for his inner baby; a corporate power broker juggling phone calls from the various people he's screwing (his wife, his employees . . . ); a performance-art groupie gushing over his favorite star; a coke dealer speed-rapping hilariously about the subtleties of substance abuse to his stockbroker client; and a yuppie doctor casually telling an AIDS patient about the disastrous side effects of the drugs he's prescribing. A disturbing streak of cruelty and arrogance runs through these and other vignettes, giving them a fascinating danger; Bogosian is often off-putting, but he's talking about aspects of life that need to be addressed. Laugh by all means--but listen too. Wellington Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Through May 9: Thursday, 8 PM; Friday-Saturday, 7 and 9:30 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $25-$35.

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

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