There I Was | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

There I Was 

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THERE I WAS, at Live Bait Theater. Picture Walter Mitty as a mousy female office temp and you have the entertaining premise of Jennifer Biddle's one-woman show, part of Live Bait's "Fillet of Solo Festival." But Biddle's character, Mabel, does not so much try to avoid her life as simply revel in her own creations. She starts telling tales as a child to keep the priest from falling asleep during her confessions. These yarns grow into a saga of wild jungle adventures centering around femme fatale Mabel and the many men who will risk everything for her love. But unlike Walter Mitty, who ends his story in a blaze of imaginary glory, Mabel is shamed into choosing between her unusual talent and "a more honest existence."

The energy required to pull off an effort like There I Was is considerable. And though Biddle's writing is generally strong, she needs to work on her physical characterizations and pacing to bring this piece alive onstage. She tells most of her stories at the same frantic level, making it difficult to get all the words out, much less give her characters texture. Without more interesting distinctions between personalities--Biddle tends to rely on dialect and facial expressions--it would be better to read this piece and create our own images of the characters. Still, through most of the evening I had the same question on my mind as Mabel's mesmerized audience around the office cooler: Then what happened?

--Kim Wilson

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