Me, Me, Me, Me, Me! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Me, Me, Me, Me, Me! 

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ME, ME, ME, ME, ME!, at Famous Door Theatre. Todd Petersen offers his own five ages of man in a solo show he created with director Patrick New.

At 45 minutes Me, Me, Me, Me, Me! is not exactly overdeveloped, but it's a sweet-tempered look at the discontinuities that together forge a personality. Resembling Lily Tomlin's bratty, adenoidal Edith Ann, the first "me" is PJ, a twerpy thespian toddler who turns his mother's force-feeding of mashed potatoes into his first Big Scene. PJ evolves into Peter Jonathan Brendemuhl, a reluctant Boy Scout merrily succumbing to make-believe a la Pee-wee Herman: he awards himself an imaginary Tony and as a talk-show host offers Julie Andrews a very forced medley of her greatest hits. A decade later pot-smoking Peter is a closeted gay actor who, despite his denials, falls in and out of love with a cute colleague. John B, the victim of bad affairs and chemical dependency, has become an insecure New Age convert experimenting with abstinence and affirmations. Finally, middle-aged Uncle Pete settles for contentment with his companion Joe. Nothing "cataclysmic" has ever happened to him, but he has his teenage nephews to spoil and Joe to help jump-start his memory.

Like Uncle Pete, Petersen's monologue offers no vast revelations, only homilies like "Be the boss of your own world" and "See the humor in life." But each self is grounded in delightful details. Ultimately Petersen's charm and honesty negate the familiarity and sentimentality of his show.

--Lawrence Bommer

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