Praying Small | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Praying Small 

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Playwright Clifford Morts made his Chicago debut in September with the world premiere of this funny, poignant semiautobiographical account of a man's downward spiral into alcohol and drug addiction and his first steps toward recovery. Confronting the issue of substance abuse with unusual humor and insight, the production gained an audience partly through word of mouth among members of the recovery community, who appreciated its absence of movie-of-the-week melodrama. Now it's reopened in slightly different form: Morts has tightened the script and added an illuminating character, an abusive alcoholic father (played by Michael Colucci, who also directs). Decent, amiable Sam Dean (Tommy Lee Johnston) drinks through his days at a six-figure job in New York with his sidekick, Roman (Jamie Kelsey). Sam refuses to give up booze and drugs even for his musician wife, Susan (Marisa Sanders), but bottoms out when he gets arrested for possession of cocaine. Morts himself has taken the pivotal supporting role of Greg, Sam's AA sponsor--a character he plays compellingly. Actors Workshop Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr, 312-622-1136. Through December 21: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15.

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