The Vinyl Shop | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Vinyl Shop 

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THE VINYL SHOP, Factory Theater. Over the past few years Nick Digilio has cowritten a number of nice, funny comedies about guys who piss away their lives drinking beer, talking trash, and playing endless variations on the male dominance game "Who has the biggest penis?" And in many ways Digilio's latest work--written in collaboration with Mike Vieau, based on Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity, and set in a used-record store--is just one more play about straight white men afraid of growing up.

With one key difference. This time Digilio, who also directs, and company seem to realize what fools these boyish men are. Instead of glorifying their characters' high jinks and asking us to laugh with them at the world, as Digilio did in the 1994 Alive, he and Vieau take a longer, more mature view, inviting us to laugh not with them or even at them but at ourselves--our younger selves. Bits that in Alive would have indicated what great times these guys have together--such as the protagonist's obsession here with top-five lists--are no longer played for laughs. Instead they show how much these lost boys, now in their late 20s and early 30s, have already missed and how much they're likely to miss in the future.

This kind of subtle, heartfelt comedy is a far cry from such trashy camp pieces as Factory's trademark White Trash Wedding and a Funeral. Yet every member of Digilio's cast, led by Vieau as the record-shop owner, works gracefully at turning this wise and witty script into an evening of rich, rewarding theater. --Jack Helbig


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