The Grand Style Presents an Evening of Illusion, Passion and Goldfish | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Grand Style Presents an Evening of Illusion, Passion and Goldfish 

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The Grand Style Presents an Evening of Illusion, Passion and Goldfish, at Frankie J's MethaDome Theatre. The tip-off of this revue's subject is a scene in which the three men comprising the Grand Style recite dialogue lifted verbatim from various plays by David Mamet. Under Tim O'Malley's direction, they're attempting to replicate that playwright's gritty, grotesque celebration of hapless schmoes trying to survive in a harsh world.

Sometimes they succeed: the bit in which two of the lads address their anorectic buddy's eating disorder concludes with neat irony, as does a scene of postwedding confidences by a groom and his two childhood chums. A playful band of stereotypical rowdies bent on "liberating" a pet goldfish has its ugly counterpart in a later scene about an urban Samaritan who suffers for his humane impulse.

The Grand Style folks have a penchant for dramatic confrontation, but they frequently fail to establish a context for the action, which means it remains incoherent. And while Justin Dobring, Gabe McKinney, and Frank Muller display admirable physical technique during the show's outbursts of violence and costume changes (too many for a piece running barely an hour--and visible to playgoers seated at stage right), the evening's ambiguities ultimately render their efforts more petty than grand.

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