Flea Market | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Flea Market 

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Flea Market, Live Bait Theater. Marc Smith, creator of the poetry slam and host of the Uptown Poetry Slam, has been trying for the past few years to make the leap from performance poet to playwright. "Flea Market," the moving first monologue on this bill, proves he's halfway there: he's capable of writing performance-worthy prose. It's a powerful piece about an angry, bitter, lonely divorced father, and Smith performs it as brilliantly as he did last fall, when it premiered at Zebra Crossing's festival of new work, "Lexis/Praxis."

The other two monologues on the bill, written by Smith but performed by Diana Slickman and Paul Traynor, are considerably less satisfying. Something's definitely lost when Smith doesn't perform his work himself. In "Cinematography," about a multimedia performance piece that goes awry, Slickman does a decent job reproducing Smith's comical persona--an exasperated nice person who loses it--but her tantrum at the climax isn't loud enough or convincing enough to be funny or to set us up for the bittersweet ending. In "Young Man," a weak piece about a son reminiscing about his dad's glory days at the local flea market, Traynor's bland performance leaves the audience wanting less.

--Jack Helbig

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