Hfobble | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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Hfobble, TriArts, Inc., at Stage Left Theatre. The stock characters of commedia dell'arte may seem quaint and exotic now, but they represented types as familiar to 16th-century Italians as yuppies, rappers, and soccer moms are to our society today. The TriArts ensemble have created their commedia-style script in affiliation with the city's Department on Aging, so it's no surprise that it focuses on geriatric issues. A misanthropic capitalist vows to destroy all nonprofit enterprises, starting with the Hfobble House Senior Center. Aided by a secret weapon (an agoraphobic techno geek), he proceeds to rob elderly citizens of the objects and activities that give their lives meaning--their true "social security"--rendering them listless and confused. Their servants uncover the evil plot, but the geezers themselves are the ones to save the world from this deadly attack.

Five performers play a total of 14 roles in the play's 80 minutes, assisted by an array of grotesque masks (though a barefaced Bryce Somerville as Airhead Amy could rout Medusa herself). Noel Williams and Allison Latta are a stalwart pair of domestic snoops, with Latta doubling as the villain's demon-child sidekick. Some of the gags may be a bit bawdy for children, but Hfobble's fanciful props, playful audience-interactive shtick, and spectacular slapstick acrobatics should delight theatergoers of all ages.


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