No Spleen | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

No Spleen 

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NO SPLEEN, Empire Theatre Company, at Mary-Arrchie Theatre. This is Carolyn Cohagan's intelligent, unexpectedly funny story of the year her spleen, and the doctors bent on curing her, nearly killed her. A young performer, Cohagan cut her teeth doing stand-up in New York and London. She has a gutsy approach to metaphor, taking ideas to their compelling extreme. Her doctor doesn't merely look like a vampire--he delivers bad news, turns into a bat, and flies away, presumably to his next appointment. Her spleen isn't merely producing cells that eat her healthy platelets--it's doing a frenetic voodoo mojo that compels white cells to be its zombie slaves.

Despite a few long, clunky digressions, Cohagan manages to transform what was clearly a miserable experience into a surreal, witty tale. Her punchy delivery has a stand-up energy, driving the narrative to its obvious end: her survival. But therapists, hypochondriacs, and catharsis addicts should beware--there's no point except to tell her story, so audiences looking for an emotional payoff or a moral will be disappointed. No Spleen marks a strong Chicago debut for Cohagan, however: many will find her casual "hey, this happened to me" enthusiasm and honesty refreshing. --Carol Burbank


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