Odds are that, next year this time, there will be a gaping hole in the fabric of the performing arts community. With the looming end of Live Bait Theatre, the annual Filet of Solo showcase of monologists is imperiled. The Lakeview House that Sharon Evans Built isn't in foreclosure, but it's changing hands after 21 years as Evans, one of the city's most fearlessly outspoken and uncompromising artistic directors, turns the keys over to the Artistic Home.
Playwrights: Tekki Lomnicki, Matthew Kerns, Robert Schroeder, Maia Morgan. At: Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark . Phone: 773-871-1212; $15 . Runs through: July 27
That pending end of an era makes the bland navel-gazing of Potholes on the Path to Enlightenment all the more annoying. Live Bait's venerable Filet of Solo goes out with a solipsistic whimper rather than a glorious bang in this joint production between Live Bait and Tellin' Tales Productions. Matthew Kerns' 'Life in the Fast Lane' consists of trite, predictable impersonations of one-dimensional characters spouting warm fuzzies. Maia Morgan's 'And Now … the Octopus' is a disjointed, perplexing non-narrative. Rob Schroeder's 'A Wake' plays like the final scene in a mediocre drama—with no preceding exposition to provide the audience with an understanding of what has happened. Finally, the usually reliable Tekki Lomnicki—a woman capable of delivering hilarious profundities and hard-won wisdom through scenes from her own amazing, life—goes nowhere in 'Saints and Sinners.'
None of the autobiographical snippets are unique or provocative enough to warrant more than a shrug. They're bland small talk, the sort of space-filling anecdotes that make up the non-essential, innocuous white noise of immediately forgotten conversations.
Kerns goes first with reminisces of his macho, deer-hunting stepdad. The point of the story seems to be that this superficially redneck father totally accepts his gay son. Like all the monologues, there's no arc, and no effective character development. It's like listening to a stranger talking to his or her shrink about the most mundane breakthroughs and tribulations.
Morgan's piece is the most confounding and often accompanied by a backdrop of often grainy, all-but-unintelligible video footage. She intersperses diary-entry scenes from her life with bizarre, free-form poetry about octopi: 'Octopus, Orpheus, oblivion,' 'God is an octopus' and the like. Whatevs.
Schroeder delivers a eulogy for his former best friend, and then lashes out at the urn with his real feelings. There's no explanation for the apparently abrupt end of the relationship, just the misguided expectation that we'll find it interesting or somehow revelatory. We don't.
Lomnicki sets a scene wherein she's trapped in an elevator, explaining to a stranger the reasons she believes in miracles. Like the rest of Potholes, it's a mild, inconsequential quasi-confession interesting to the person who actually lived it. For the rest of us? Not so much.