The Book of Liz | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Book of Liz 

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The Book of Liz, Roadworks Productions, at the Chopin Theatre. Brother and sister David and Amy Sedaris are almost bullet proof. David Sedaris is rightfully adored for his achingly funny collection Barrel Fever--never mind that the he-who-rants-loudest formula has worn thin in successive works. Amy Sedaris is brilliant too, though her output is as erratic as the day is long. Together they wrote The Book of Liz, which follows the adventures of a profusely sweaty woman who decides to leave a puritanical religious sect, where she makes cheese balls. It isn't the heartbreaking work of staggering genius you'd expect from the real world's answer to the Royal Tenenbaums. Instead it's sloppy and bawdy, designed to be an extended goof--a show that just begs for a fly-by-night staging.

Which makes it a particularly bad fit for Roadworks, a company that excels at everything but selecting scripts. Geoffrey M. Curley and Mati Johnson's set--a backdrop that resembles a TGI Friday's cluttered with Amish knickknacks--is clever. And though it's hard to imagine anyone but Amy Sedaris tackling the title role (she appeared in the original New York production), Maggie Carney's spastic, grotesque portrayal leads the charge of a similarly accomplished cast, directed by Birgitta Victorson. Too bad that the production's slow pace--an attempt to legitimize this lightweight work--adds 30 minutes and deadens most of the play's rapid-fire jokes. It makes you wonder what Roadworks would be capable of if it scaled back its lofty ambitions.

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