The Birth of a Frenchman | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Birth of a Frenchman 

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Jeff Dorchen's two-character, one-man show about Sardin, a Frenchman inexplicably born to American parents, defies easy categorization. Though the episodic piece contains many comic moments, including some of the best surreal sight gags since Rene Magritte, Dorchen's work ends with a long meditation on the transitoriness of human existence ("I'm afraid to love my life. It is happening without me") at once too dark and too moving to pass for mere comedy. Of course, this mixing of serious and comic themes was Dorchen's signature in his work with the Theater Oobleck. (Dorchen left the Theater Oobleck nine months ago with Mickle Maher to found the Theater for the Age of Gold.) However, nothing Dorchen created in Oobleck's intensely collaborative atmosphere even approaches the subtle blend of comedy and tragedy that he achieves here. One of the funniest bits is a comic re-creation of the moment Oedipus, torn by sorrow, blinds himself. Rhinoceros Theatre Festival, Theatre of the Reconstruction, Friday, 10 PM and Wednesday, 8 PM (the Garage, 1843 W. North). $7. 325-1944.

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