Solo Select | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Solo Select 

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No one would call Jim Carrane or Paul Turner a smooth, polished performer. Carrane moves awkwardly, lurching from one spot to another as he stammers out his lines. Meanwhile Turner embodies the stiff John Wayne aesthetic of rural maleness, moving only the muscles in his face and hands when he speaks. But each monologuist compensates for his roughness by speaking from the heart and revealing himself, flaws and all, to the audience. In Jim Carrane Is Living in a Dwarf's House, Carrane gets big laughs by making himself look venal and silly. He takes it personally when the owner of a video store lies to him about why he didn't special order a copy of Bulworth. And when his roommate accuses him of stealing a pork chop, Carrane says that when he steals food he never leaves evidence like the half-empty package in the freezer. Turner's approach is similarly self-deprecating in The Helicopter Ride, tales of life on a farm near Cairo, Illinois. Speaking in a gravelly drawl and looking for all the world like a guy you'd see belly up to a truck stop counter, Turner shakes some of the skeletons in his family's closet: his father never managed to make a living as a farmer while his father's father lit out for points unknown at the start of the Depression. Turner himself got into lots of trouble as a boy because he spent so much time hanging out at the county jail where his dad was sheriff. But these anecdotes are more than acts of confession or bids for laughter: Turner aims to re-create, if only for a few minutes, the vivid world of his youth, a world long gone. And in his dry, laconic way, he moves us with these shadows. Both performers reprise their shows in "Solo Select." Live Bait Theater, Bucket, 3914 N. Clark, 773-871-1212. Opens Friday, October 19, 8 PM. Through November 3: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $12.

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