Underwater Football | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Underwater Football 

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Julie Caffey's autobiographical piece about her rocky relationship with her disgruntled older brother and reclusive father doesn't take long to reach its inevitable conclusion: who we really are is who our parents made us. Water is the dominant motif: framing her tale with the biblical story of Jonah, she suggests the importance of destiny and biology and the regenerative properties of a cataclysmic storm. Still, the most penetrating moments in this hour-long self-help session are personal, when Caffey makes uneasy attempts to untangle the snarled branches of her own dysfunctional family tree. Director Susan Nussbaum has helped eliminate some of the layers of fruity theatricality that obscured Caffey's earlier version of the piece (staged as part of Tellin' Tales Theatre's Sibling Revelry in June). That in turn has opened Caffey up to a more honest, grounded performance. With her disarmingly slack style she affects apathy, but you can tell she's still being pulled in a thousand complex directions: the sarcastic smile on her lips draws attention away from but can't eradicate the mixture of pity and regret in her eyes. Prop Thtr, 4225 N. Lincoln, 773-327-6666. Through October 5: Saturdays, 9 PM. $10 or "pay what you can."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jason Robinette.

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