I Am A Fool | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

I Am A Fool 

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I AM A FOOL, Studio 108, at the Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe. Sherwood Anderson's 1923 tale of a young stable hand who lies about his origins to impress a girl is as quaint and sentimental as any yarn of its period. But Mike Vieau's adaptation remains true to that time: he never flinches from an idiom in which "gay" means "extravagant," a "nigger" is simply a man who happens to be black, and "craps amighty" is the strongest expletive the narrator utters. Nor does Vieau the performer ever succumb to the temptation of sneering at his character's naivete. Instead he delivers the character's homespun philosophies--as when our hero, gone to the races, boasts of his grandstand seat but scorns a box as "putting on too many airs"--with an earnestness that forces us to take this innocent product of an innocent time seriously. At one point Vieau gazes upon an empty wooden chair with such affection in his eyes that we can almost see the girl he's doomed to lose. Similarly, Greg Nagan's score of incidental sounds conjures almost palpable images of busy racetracks and still country nights.

Though Studio 108's output has been somewhat uneven since its inception in 1993, it's had its best luck with one-person shows. Now I Am a Fool may be added to the roster of successful ones.

--Mary Shen Barnidge


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