Genetic Material | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Genetic Material 

GENETIC MATERIAL, at Live Bait Theater. Like DNA, our singular life stories make us unique. And that's the thrust of Genetic Material, an evening of autobiographical monologues by Tekki Lomnicki and Lotti Pharriss in Live Bait Theater's "Fillet of Solo Festival."

In "Paper Doll," Lomnicki expresses smart-assed disgust with the people who've referred to her throughout her life as a "little doll" (she stands about three feet tall), then expands the doll image to talk about childhood fears and Barbie envy. Honest as this piece is, it seems that deeper feelings have been sacrificed to shallow sarcasm. Pharriss's "Grandma O" introduces us to a grandmother who feeds bacon and eggs to birds and can still kick above her head--almost. Pharriss uses Grandma's own words, voice, and character to recount the good old days but describes Grandma's decline from her own granddaughterly point of view. There's room here to develop Grandma's physical character, but Pharriss gets her point across.

In "Let the Dead Rest" Lomnicki offers a hilarious characterization of her south-side father: if he'd named the piece, it would have been "When I Die, Bury Me in the Backyard and Let the Dog Piss on Me." Pharriss's presentation of her John Wayne wannabe dad in "Oh My Papa" has equally touching and funny moments (my favorite line: "Superman is a pimple compared to me"). Directly addressing her dead father, however, is a self-indulgent choice that may be cathartic for Pharriss but is off-putting for the audience.

--Kim Wilson

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