The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me... | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me... 

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While Ellen DeGeneres of the sitcom Ellen dithers about whether to out her on-screen self, Dan Butler, who plays a flaming heterosexual on Frasier, puts himself on the line as the openly gay author-star of this one-man show. A hit in LA and then off-Broadway (where Greg Louganis played Butler's role), The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me... comprises a dozen or so vignettes about contemporary gay life that allow Butler to draw on his charismatic stage presence and dramatic range while dispelling myths about homosexuality. The title comes from the reaction Butler's father had when Dan told him he was gay (of course the sentence ended " that you were dead"). Running through the monologues (some of which are overtly autobiographical) is the theme of sharing and affirming a once-hidden inner life. In one sketch Butler plays a blustery straight whose invisible pal turns out to be gay; in another he's a fifth-grader both aroused and scared to learn of his schoolmates' secret "fuck club." (He declines to join--not because he's repelled, but because he can't feign the emotional detachment the other guys seem to feel.) In another scene he invites the audience to gaze upon his invisible bedmate--"Isn't he beautiful?"--even as his giddy pleasure turns into possessive anxiety. Butler's strongly written, well-acted characters are careful sketches from real life, precise miniature portraits of the "wads of contradictions" that define human nature. Ivanhoe Theater, 750 W. Wellington, 975-7171. Preview Tuesday, October 8, 7 PM. $17.50. Opens Wednesday, October 9, 8 PM. Through October 15: Thursday, 8 PM; Friday, 8 and 10:15 PM; Saturday, 6 and 9 PM; Sunday, 3 PM; Monday, 8 PM; Tuesday, 8 PM. $24.50-$29.50.

--Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Michael Lamont.

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