The Return of Quentin Crisp | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Return of Quentin Crisp 

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It's ironic that the Halsted Theatre Centre chose monologuist Quentin Crisp to perform during Gay and Lesbian Pride Week. That event celebrates group solidarity; Crisp is the quintessential loner. His autobiography The Naked Civil Servant elevated him to cult status with its account of his decision to live openly as a homosexual in England between the 1920s and the 1960s. ("Perhaps Jean-Paul Sartre would be kind enough to say that I exercised the last vestiges of my free will by swimming with the tide--but faster. In the time of which I am writing I was merely thought of as brazening it out.") In that and in subsequent books such as How to Become a Virgin and How to Go to The Movies, and in his one-man performances, last seen here at the Ivanhoe Theatre in 1984, Crisp uses genteel posturing and a knack for startling witticism to communicate a deep sense of alienation that's both amusing and troubling. Now 81, Crisp is a great talker--though one suspects it's a talent he's developed in order to avoid having to listen to others. ("There are only two kinds of information we can receive," he writes in the June Lear's magazine, "that which we already know, which is boring, and that which we do not, which is humiliating.") An evening spent in his peculiarly quaint yet caustic company is not one for people who want to have their assumptions about the world comfortably confirmed. Halsted Theatre Centre, June 20 through 24. Wednesday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 6:30 and 9 PM; Sunday, 7:30 PM. $20-$25.

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