Up to the Sky | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Up to the Sky 

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Some Irish-Catholic families (like mine) indulge in miniroasts, hilariously recounting the foibles and misdemeanors of each person at the table. Mind you, these are not no-holds-barred sessions. No one ever jokes about the great lapses, this cousin's unwed pregnancy, that one's alcoholism--those are saved for much bloodier get-togethers. But the stories do both clear the air and reinforce a sense of family history. It's the kind of storytelling that monologuist Antonio Sacre, a good Catholic boy, excels at, though he's also experimented with other forms. His 2000 Eleven Dollar Prophet incorporated shamanic ritual. And his 1999 My Penis--In and Out of Trouble addressed his sex life with a frankness that would have made a priest gasp, pushing confessional storytelling to an extreme. But Sacre seems most comfortable shaping family tales into entertaining evenings. His current show, Up to the Sky, is a collection of memories of his mother, a chain-smoking nurse who raised her boys alone and cursed like the working-class Irish girl from south Boston she was. The piece is a follow-up of sorts to Si la Gente Quiere Comer Carne, Le Damos Carne, in which Sacre talked about his brother's descent into drug addiction and crime and subsequent reform. Up to the Sky is less brave: Sacre reveals nothing particularly shocking about his mother--her greatest sin seems to be nicotine addiction--and his show lacks the sense of foreboding, the dark undercurrent of Si la Gente. Still, he's a powerful enough storyteller that even the smallest everyday detail--like the way his mother drives, coffee in one hand, cigarette in the other--comes alive. Lunar Cabaret, 2827 N. Lincoln, 773-327-6666. Through September 1: Friday-Saturday, 9 PM; Sunday, 3 PM. $10 or "pay what you can."

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

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