Howie the Rookie | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Howie the Rookie 

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Contemporary Irish drama checklist: Nearly indecipherable blue-collar brogues? Check. Crude euphemisms for sex with ugly girls? Check. Whiskey? Check. Stories detailing grotesque violence? Check. Mark O'Rowe's two back-to-back monologues have all the most corrosive elements of recent Irish plays, but in Mike Tutaj's staging they also offer humor and poetry. Pickled blackguards Howie and Rookie tell different stories about the same night out carousing. Brendan Melanson is impressive as Howie, a randy but seemingly harmless chap who's looking for a poke. Communicating the character's simultaneous burliness and delicacy, he holds an unlit cigarette throughout a 25-minute roughhousing story without breaking it. Matt Engle is equally good as brutal punk Rookie. And the minimalist formula of two actors and a chair, which can seem phony, really pays off here. Through 11/10: Mon-Wed, 8 PM. Steep Theatre Company, 3902 N. Sheridan, 312-458-0722. $15.

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