Some People | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Some People 

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A collection of character sketches drawn from author-star Danny Hoch's observations of New York life in all its polyglot perversity, Some People invites comparisons to John Leguizamo's Spic-O-Rama, Sherry Glaser's Family Secrets, Lily Tomlin's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, and Eric Bogosian's Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll. But as good as those pieces are, they're so carefully structured we're constantly reminded we're watching virtuosic actors at work. The 24-year-old Hoch's half-improvised performance--sometimes outrageously funny, sometimes grim or ambiguous--is less overtly theatrical, more fluidly lifelike. Characters come and go without necessarily having made their points, but the sounds of their speech will ring in your head long after Hoch has stopped talking. Hoch is a kind of socioanthropologist who uses his own voice and body instead of a microphone or video camera; an astonishing mimic, he's uncannily accurate whether playing a Hispanic father grieving for the son he lost in a street shoot-out; a Polish handyman cheerfully conversing with an English-speaking client, though neither can understand the other; a teenage Puerto Rican girl grossed out by the idea of safe sex; a Jewish mother nagging her son to leave his job as a ghetto social worker; or a black rapper venting his self-hatred on the counter clerk at a Chinese takeout. His eye for gestural nuance and, even more, his ear for accents and dialects are truly phenomenal; Some People is a living document of how the American language and the crowded, conflict-filled immigrant society it expresses are being remade even as we speak. Directed by Bogosian's wife, Jo Bonney, this intermissionless 90-minute show won Hoch an Obie Award when he did it at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York; it comes here under the auspices of Jam Productions and the Goodman. At the Organic Theater Company, main stage, 3319 N. Clark, 327-5588. Preview Tuesday, June 13, 8 PM. $15.50. Opens Wednesday, June 14, 8 PM. Through June 24: Wednesdays-Thursdays, 8 PM; Fridays-Saturdays, 8 and 10:30 PM. $15.50.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paula Court.

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