Facts and Figures | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Facts and Figures 

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Theater artist Eric Ziegenhagen is like a world-class butler. You might swear he doesn't do any work at all: when Ziegenhagen directed Beau O'Reilly's The House on the Lake by the Woods Near the Ocean, he made the audience stare at a nearly empty stage for a good 30 minutes. But by the time an evening with Ziegenhagen is over, you realize he's orchestrated a million imperceptible details and made everything come off without a hitch. His work has never been more imperceptible than in Facts and Figures, a play he wrote and directed for this year's Rhinoceros Theater Festival. A young unmarried couple find themselves separated for weeks at a time; she's an ambitious young executive flying around the country to various training sessions while he sits home waiting for the next temp job. The characters spend almost the entire play on the phone with each other, making idle chitchat, lit by a single table lamp. Superficially a play about nothing, Facts and Figures is ultimately a deeply felt inquisition into the nature of loyalty and trust. Ziegenhagen couldn't have asked for a better cast than Anne Fogarty and John Roberts, actors who need barely raise an eyebrow to convey enormous depths. The last two scenes cover no new ground, but Ziegenhagen at his most superfluous is better than most artists at their most essential. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 312-409-2674. Opens Thursday, November 11, 7:30 PM. Through December 4: Thursdays and Saturdays, 7:30 PM; no show Thursday, November 25. $10. --Justin Hayford

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