One Is Not the Loneliest Number

Ten actors take on the world in the Bryant-Lake Bowl's Festival of One-Person Shows

Dramatis Personae: Billie Jo. That's it.

Is UPS back on strike?: Director Joel Sass promises the props will include a mason jar filled with gen-u-ine dirt from Oklahoma--if it arrives on time.

I feel the earth move under my feet: Sass explains, "In the course of the text, these characters turn into the land they're living on." That is, both character and land are dry and unforgiving.

Zach Anderson in Animals
Zach Anderson in Animals

Don't look back--something might be gaining on you: After Billie Jo's mother dies, she tells us, "Such a sorrow doesn't come suddenly. There are a thousand steps to take before you get there. But now sorrow climbs up our front steps big as Texas, and we didn't see it coming, even though it had been making its way straight for us all along."

Being there: Sat. Nov. 7 and 14 at 9:30 p.m.; Tues. 24 at 7 p.m.

You Want Fries with That?

The show: Colleen Kruse in Food Chain

Cliff's Notes: The local comic's dish-and-tell on the restaurant biz. Kruse has been a comic and a storyteller for 10 years, but has spent 13 years as a service professional. The only restaurant gig she'll identify by name is the night shift at Mickey's diner. She hopes co-workers at other jobs won't come.

Dramatis Personae: Kruse mostly plays her storytelling self, though she plans to include some bread ladies ("We'll just have the soup. And another basket of bread, please?") and character studies of other real-life restaurant regulars. (Perhaps she'll play you.)

You can't afford a costume-drama on tips: Kruse counts as her props: "Monologue. Voice. Posture. And a chair."

Potential employers, read this: Despite the occasional frustration, real-life Kruse assures us, "I love waitressing. It's transient. The cast changes every time. It's got the promise that something new will happen each day."

Potential customers, read this: Kruse's moral of the story, "The meek might not inherit the earth, but they have access to your food."

Being there: Thurs. 5 and 12; Fri. 6 and 13 at 9:30 p.m.

Next Time Try NyQuil

The show: Amanda Clower in Fridge Strings: Nocturne with Fruit and Grandmother

Cliff's Notes: Sell the Cow Theater brings Chicago denizen Clower and her much-praised show to the BLB. A late-night refriger-raid sparks a multigenerational meditation on the balance between family and self.

Dramatis Personae: A woman, her mother, and her grandmother.

9-1/2 Weeks revisited?: Props and costumes will include a nightgown, Hershey's Syrup, milk, and baby carrots.

Would you like to see my ovum?: Clower says, "A number of people have left the show saying they never will look at an egg the same way again."

America loves a Wonderbra: Mother sighs, "My breasts are falling. I'll go to Europe. Old people are revered over there."

Being there: Mon. Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.; Tues. 17 at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

When Smart French Symbolist Poets Make Foolish Choices

The Show: Charle Rollings in A Season in Hell

Cliff's Notes: A young Arthur Rimbaud fell in love with an older man. The man was abusive; Rimbaud was tormented. Like all young lovers in pain, he wrote some poems, and some letters--except his were actually good. Thus, this one-person show by BLB vet Charle Rollings.

Dramatis Personae: Three characters, including Rimbaud's mother and his lover. (Those are two different people. This is France, not ancient Greece.)

After 10,000 performances, who needs a set?: Rollings says, the production elements will "really be timeless. And sparse. Timeless but sparse."

Did Rimbaud suffer codependency?: "These things are so easily pushed aside," Rollings says. "People say, 'He's bad for you; you should leave him.' And the response is, 'Yeah, but I love him.'"

Arthur Rimbaud for Calvin Klein: Rollings's favorite passage: "It's found again."/ "What?"/"Eternity."

Being there: Fri. Nov. 6 and 13 at 7 p.m; Thurs. Nov. 19 at 9:30 p.m; and Mon. Nov. 23 at 7 p.m.

On the Road Again

The show: Brent Roske in Like a River

Cliff's Notes: After being left by his wife, a man trades everything he owns for a motorcycle and rides off to California to find her. The singer-songwriter, predictably, drops a few ditties about love, love lost, and the lore of the road.

Dramatis Personae: One folk singer (and a dream).

Timeless, but sparse, redux: The mise-en-scène includes jeans, boots, T-shirt, and a guitar.

What comes before laughter and rain...: Roske says he hopes the audience comes away with a sense that "Life goes in revolutions, and ultimately it is our perception and understanding of events which create joy and pain."

Did Rod McKuen write this show?: "No matter what, life would move forward--like travelers through a storm, like a ship at a river."

Being there: Mon. Nov. 9 and Tues. Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.

Rolling Stones

The show: John Troyer in SissY

Cliff's Notes: Intellectual guerrilla performance artist Troyer explores his inner Camus in this sci-fi take on existentialism. A snafu at the time-travel bureau CHRON sends Sisyphus to the modern office where he makes rubber-band balls and counts binder clips. CHRON is not pleased.

Dramatis Personae: Nine, including a disillusioned assassin called The Inhabitant, a bullhorned-helmet-wearing MEMO-READER, and renegade performance artist/deviant Maestro Zany.

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