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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



THEATER The Book of Liz
by Rick Reed

This article shared 3562 times since Wed May 21, 2003
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{Playwright: Amy Sedaris

and David Sedaris

At: Roadworks at Chopin Theatre,

1543 W. Division

Phone: (866) 468-3401; $18-$22

Runs through: June 29}

Thank God Roadworks had the good sense to bring the warped intellects of brother and sister David and Amy Sedaris (aka the 'Talent Family') to a Chicago stage again. Roadworks has previously staged David Sedaris' The SantaLand Diaries to critical and popular acclaim. While The Book of Liz probably won't garner the same enthusiasm as that piece, it contains enough groans and yuks to make it a suitable evening for folks possessing an appreciation for humor with a twist.

You may know David Sedaris from his NPR commentary and a series of popular humor tomes (Barrel Fever, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day) and Amy from her Comedy Central series, Strangers with Candy. If you do, you know not to expect tame comedy from this pair. If you don't, you're in for a bizarre treat.

The Book of Liz chronicles the life of Sister Elizabeth Donderstock, a member of a strict religious community known as the 'Squeamish,' which is very similar in garb and ideas for what constitutes a good time to a similarly named sect. The good sister (played with flawless comic timing and on-target physical humor that harkens back to the best of Gilda Radner by Maggie Carney) has long-enjoyed success among her peers because of the amazing cheese balls she concocts. When her world is threatened by a hostile takeover and she is reduced to chive harvesting, the Sister sets off to find her place outside the stern arms of the Squeamish. She encounters refugees from the Ukraine (in the clever guise of Mr. Peanut) and quickly finds work in an IHOP clone with a Pilgrim theme (order the 'We Hate the English Muffins'), staffed by recovering AA members. Along the way, she encounters a doctor who favors treating the Sister's profuse sweating with leeches.

While The Book of Liz has its moments of hysteria, it is also a remarkably tame effort from a brother and sister who have garnered a sizable cult following for their cockeyed observations of the world and their unconventional humor. While I laughed, I wasn't quite on the floor, where I expected to be. Sister Liz, when confronted with the idea of a 'nursing home,' asks if working there meant 'suckling babies at the teat?' I found it hard to reign in my mirth. Likewise, when the sister confessed that she might not want to rid herself of her sweating problem because, essentially, it was her cross to bear and helped define her as one of God's creatures, her doctor (Mierka Girten, in one of several over-the-top turns), deadpans, 'If I thought that way, I'd still be downing a fifth of vodka and waking up with come in my ears.' Delicious stuff.

If the mirth stayed at this revved up, kinda sick level, The Book of Liz would be a must see. However, I would say it's a might see. If you love the Sedarises—as I do—and think that anything they do has to have some value, redeeming or not, it's worth seeing. If you can appreciate humor that relies on butt scratching, stool samples, and sweat, you'll be well-pleased with the money you spent. Just don't come expecting NPR or Strangers with Candy. Alone, David Sedaris is a very funny, insightful fellow. Alone, Amy Sedaris is one twisted gal. Together, they're less than the sum of their parts. Still, seeing Roadwork's skilled production makes for a fun 75 minutes, a lot more fun than staying home and rolling cheese balls.

This article shared 3562 times since Wed May 21, 2003
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