Playing Dumb With Jill Benjamin | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Playing Dumb With Jill Benjamin 

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Jill Benjamin's exploration of dating and other painful rituals has apparently gained several IQ points since its run last fall, thanks to some innovative rewrites, Ron West's restaging, and Benjamin's peas-in-a-pod chemistry with new partner Brian Shortall. Here's the trick as I see it: instead of parading a string of drawn-out Love, American Style scenarios, Benjamin cuts right to the punch lines and delivers them with machine-gun rapidity. For example, the show opens with Benjamin and Shortall on either side of a door placed center stage. Each time the doorbell rings, the two deliver the opening lines of a date destined to head south. After 12 such exchanges over three minutes, the audience feels it's relived years of dating horror. Very efficient. The evening is definitely skewed toward people still in the throes of mating season, but others may enjoy the memory of the hunt or their relief at being out of that dangerous game. Apollo Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln, 773-935-6100. Through August 30: Fridays, 10:30 PM. $15. Also at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 Campbell, Arlington Heights, 847-577-2121. Through August 28: Wednesdays, 8 PM. $15.

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