Tights On A Wire | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Tights On A Wire 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

TIGHTS ON A WIRE, Zeppo Productions and Old Timer Productions, at Eclipse Theatre Company. I've never been particularly fond of George Brant's plays; Lovely Letters, his parody of A.R. Gurney's Love Letters, was too long, and Sitcom, a TV takeoff, was too obvious. But as an actor--in such disparate shows as Bitches, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and A Death in the Family--Brant has revealed a remarkable emotional and stylistic range. Which always made me hope that one day he would learn to edit his work--or find someone to do it for him.

Brant's new play, Tights on a Wire, about a family of circus performers, was written with mime J.P. Manoux. It's a hybrid work--part comedy, part melodrama. The press materials call it a "mock tragic tale." It isn't all that funny--again the shtick is way too obvious to raise laughs--but Brant may have found his collaborator.

The story Brant and Manoux tell is always engaging--an even harder skill to master than joke writing. Even when the plot gets bizarre and twisty--the climax requires the whole Gamboni family to create a human pyramid on a tightrope--they never lose sight of the story line. Nor do they forget how important believable, fascinating characters are. And no matter how surreal things become, they never allow their creations to do anything out of character for the sake of a laugh. So even though the jokes fall flat, at the end we're sorry to see this crazy gang of high-wire walkers go. --Jack Helbig

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

More by Jack Helbig

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
March 21
Performing Arts
April 30

Popular Stories