Libby Marshall shows comic potential in Delicate Decay | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Libby Marshall shows comic potential in Delicate Decay 

But too often she leans on pop culture tropes instead of lived experience.

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courtesy Annoyance Theatre

In this solo sketch show, Libby Marshall races through dozens of short bits in less than an hour. Aided by a top hat, a burlap sack, a salt shaker, a few other props, and some pre-recorded audio, Marshall inhabits a multitude of characters, including a few inanimate objects. She has enough natural presence to command attention even though a lot of her material is impersonal and underdeveloped.

Marshall projects an intentionally eccentric persona. Clad in a full-length black dress with velvet top, she looks a little like a distant relation of the Beales of Grey Gardens as drawn by Edward Gorey. The more memorable vignettes include several scenes in which Marshall twists and bends her lanky frame to create dramatic moments that rise above their sketch-comedy origins, including an impersonation of a rubber plant in a public restroom bemoaning its fate and Melania Trump begging a Ouija board for release from her suffering. But too often Marshall leans on pop-culture tropes rather than lived experience. The Annoyance Theatre does her no favors by assigning her a stage sandwiched between the very loud lobby bar and another theater from which other performers’ voices bled in throughout the show.

Marshall is a gifted performer who should have no trouble landing a wide variety of comedic and dramatic roles. Much of this show, in fact, comes off as a kind of live audition reel. With a few more years behind her and some editing help, I could see a solo show like this really flying. I look forward to seeing what she does next. Jillian Mueller directed.   v

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