Fools | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Fools 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Fools, TinFish Theatre. The themes of comedy may be as universal as those of tragedy, but they're often so tied to a particular time and place as to be incomprehensible elsewhere. Yet Neil Simon in this "comic fable" of a village (obviously the famous Chelm of Jewish folklore) liberated from the curse of cluelessness by a clever schoolmaster forges from the ancient xenophobic tales a parable whose lessons resonate with disturbing familiarity.

Simon--the master of the lightning-fast quip, who proved in The Good Doctor that even Chekhov can be funny nowadays--understandably devotes most of the script to patter, relying on the proposition that foolish behavior is plentiful the world over. And the drollery of the local meshuggenim might easily tempt energetic young actors to self-indulgent scattershot slapstick. But the TinFish cast has taken care to ground even the most juvenile gags--a villain with a pronounced lisp, for example, and a shepherd whose voice squeaks a la Andy Devine--in clearly defined characters and precision-machined dialogue. The actors' obvious enthusiasm for their material and ease with one another--rare in storefront productions, which are often underrehearsed--amplify Simon's humanitarian (but not utopian) plea for enlightenment through education, producing an infectious optimism sorely needed in this fin de siecle New Year.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Mary Shen Barnidge

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20
Performing Arts
Tempel Lipizzans Tempel Farms
June 19

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories