I Sailed With Magellan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

I Sailed With Magellan 

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Claudia Allen's strong suit as a playwright has always been feisty old women in small towns, so it's a stretch for her to adapt Stuart Dybek's 2003 "novel in stories," dominated by urban male voices. But Allen's script is remarkably sure-handed and often riotously funny, providing an elegy for a working-class, pre-Starbucks cityscape (well reflected by Jeff Bauer's clever multilevel set). Dispensing with narration, the episodic script cuts back and forth between the 1950s and '60s in Little Village as young Perry Katzek grows up with a penny-pinching father (played to perfection by Marc Grapey) and a sad-eyed wastrel musician uncle (an affecting Lance Baker) damaged by the Korean war. Sandy Shinner's fluid direction and the rock-solid ensemble capture the roiling energy and tender truthfulness of Dybek's world. a Through 7/15: Tue-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 5 and 8:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, Victory Gardens Theater at the Biograph, 2433 N. Lincoln, 773-871-3000, $20-$45.

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