Inner Life | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Inner Life 

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Inner Life, Curious Theatre Branch, at the Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe. The imaginative, deliciously smart work of Wisconsin writer Angela Woodward comes to life in Curious Theatre's adaptations of her stories for a series called Inner Life. The first in the series is "Mr. Distar," which Beau O'Reilly claims to have carried around in his book bag for 3 years because he liked it so much. It depicts a provocative encounter between two former college friends, one a professor completely lost in the ivory tower of her theories and the other a near-homeless woman broken down by a system that filled her teaching position with a robot. The tension between the women artfully reveals human reactions to (and denial of) change, resulting in dark humor as well as tragedy; Curious Theatre justifies its departure from self-scripted material with a staging that's as thoroughly absorbing as a great, tersely written short story.

The clean execution of "Mr. Distar" lies in its strong ensemble: Mark Comiskey, Amy Warren, and Dana Wise, who with O'Reilly also adapted and staged the story. Warren is right on in her portrayal of airy Professor Grimlak, and Wise gives Claire's sadness and rage humanity but doesn't go overboard. Comiskey rounds out the cast with his chameleon physicality, playing such characters as the student Veronica and an evil inspector. If the other stories are staged as well as "Mr. Distar," the full Inner Life should not be missed.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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