At the risk of later finding all adult-oriented entertainment flat and boring, setting aside a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to experience the antics of Barrel of Monkeys is a top recommendation. Even the crustiest of curmudgeons will be forced to crack a smile, if not full throttle laughter.
We meet a flat affect Batman contending with a spirited would-be assistant who just wants to sing rap, Chance the Rapper. Film noir gets updated in a story about a cat DJ being paid in mice by a fat cat named Pickles. Step aside Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘cuz your ability to describe existential angst pales in comparison to the life of a pie being forced to eat fellow pies in a pie factory. And for those of us who once read every fairy tale book that could be found (..the Red book of Fairy Tales, the Green book…Magenta…Chartreuse..) you’ll savor the modern update to the terrors within those tales, such as the mother who throws her infant into the street as she rushes to pick up her daughter at school.
Short and offbeat, more than a baker’s dozen short tales come from the pen of students that Barrel of Monkeys tutors. They are a non-profit arts education theater ensemble now in its 21st season that teaches creative writing to children in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades in underserved Chicago Public Schools. That’s a mission in itself worthy of admiration.
But it’s way better, in no small part because the teacher-actors who bring these stories to life on the stage ham it up to the max and inject it with creative touches galore. Two umbrellas become bicycle wheels, wigs come off and antlers come on, they dance, they wiggle, they pop in and out of the curtain in one low-budget high-imagination costume after another. (Cast: Elisa Carlson; Nancy Casas; Joan Figarella; Victoria Golden; Nick Hart; Laura McKenzie; Kayla Pulley; Brad Stephens; and Rachel Wilson. Director: Brandon Cloyd)
Barrel of Monkeys calls it "THAT's WEIRD GRANDMA: Stories on Sunday Afternoons
Sunday afternoon performances are especially a good pick for seeing how this truly is entertainment for all ages. Yes, families might watch The Simpsons together but in truth the parents and children are usually laughing at different punch lines. Here though we are all on the same page. True, when this princess refuses to kiss the frog the adults in the room might be seeing a starlet standing up to Trump or Harvey Weinstein. But you won’t find an adult framework for most of these stories, and this writer dares you not to cheer when the Fart Man takes the toilet to its watery grave “and then the toilet melts!”
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Now through November 12
Sundays at 2 PM
Note: Barrel of Monkeys has ongoing programs, if you miss this highly recommended Sunday series
5153 North Ashland
$15 for adults
$5 for children under 12
Student, senior, veteran, and group discounts available
For more information or to by tickets visit the Barrel of Monkeys website or for tickets call 773 506 7140.
Beth Bullock Photography