The Soccer Player in the Closet attempts to conjure the existential despair of the handset and the Pringles tube | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

The Soccer Player in the Closet attempts to conjure the existential despair of the handset and the Pringles tube 

Unfortunately, Nothing Without a Company can't make this interesting theater.

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Matthew Gregory Hollis

As excuses never to leave the house go, Cristiano (Rolando Serrano) has more than his fair share. He's a former world champion at competitive online soccer who made so much money gaming that he could support his whole extended family, all without getting off the couch except to travel to tournaments. He had plans to shock the FIFA community by one day revealing his secret queer lover, but now that lover is dead; shortly after he died, Christiano's father died too. Who wouldn't resort to the headset and the Pringles tube after that?

The trouble is that, on its surface, in meatspace, where we're watching this Nothing Without a Company play in the attic above a home-and-garden store, this then becomes a show about a guy who feels too sorry for himself to change his shirt. It's also about the family and friends who have to swoop in and clean up after him, once he's sadly and inevitably laid low by a bowel obstruction caused by undigested chips. Not exactly riveting.

Not without pleasant touches either. Serrano has the weird rictus gamers get on their faces after hundreds of hours in front of the console. And what's not to like about a running Spanish-English-Portuguese trilingual gag involving attempts to rid the apartment of a ghost with burnt sage and sprinkled drops of Lake Michigan water, led by Amelia Bethel as sorceress Leona, who learned everything she knows about placating the spirit realm from the Internet?   v

Correction: In a previous version of this review, a character's name was misspelled. It is Cristiano, not Christiano.

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