Math Curse | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Math Curse 

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"It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time," grouses Milo, the apathetic schoolboy in Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollboth. Had Milo been blessed with an opportunity to see Heath Corson's pitch-perfect adaptation of Math Curse, Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's children's book, he might have felt quite different about his schoolwork. Like the loopy, fantastical Disney animated short Donald in Mathmagic Land, this play offers a brilliant summation of the practical application of mathematics. For soft-spoken heroine Jamie, it takes some rather extraordinary events--among them an alien invasion and her teacher's voodoo "math curse"--to change her mind about the value of numbers in everyday life. First staged in 1997 and remounted now in celebration of Runamuck Productions' sixth anniversary, this show, like their others, has something for everyone. Children will love the breakneck pace and visceral slapstick gags; adults will draw laughs from the clever, sophisticated references (Edvard Munch, Fibonacci sequences). And underneath it all beats a big, brilliant, exuberant heart. WNEP Theater, 3209 N. Halsted, 773-784-8100. Open run: Saturdays-Sundays, noon. $6.

--Nick Green

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