"Graceland": Not Elvis' Final Resting Place

GRACELAND
Extended through August 16th
Profiles Theatre
4147 N. Broadway

July 2, 2009

Buying the house a round and going home and shooting himself. It's hard to imagine the humor in that scenario. But it's that mystery of a father's death that is the catalyst for Graceland's witty dialogue about family dysfunction, love woes, and career confusion. I was swept up in the moments of the play. I want to quit my job and deliver edible arrangements. I want to get drunk and hit on men. I want to feel less lonely because a young thing thinks I'm beautiful. I was there but I wasn't, so I could laugh... really hard.

Jackson Challinor did a marvelous job of playing a quirky, vulnerable teenager. (How old are you, Jackson? Would it be a felony? But I could go for your dad too!) The dad, Darrell Cox, balancing perfectly an SNL wild and crazy guy meets Mike Brady. (Hey, the play is targeted for the 40's crowd and so are my pop culture references.) Eric Burgher, as the dead guy's son, delivers the most haunting line to his sister: "Your jokes aren't even funny." Ouch, those words in a fight can never be taken back. Unfortunately, every time his sister, Cheryl Graeff, a dead ringer for Miranda, made a sexual advance, all I could think was "What about Steve?"

My favorite part was the Chicago references, like; Graceland cemetery, air and water show, R.J. Grunts, Marshall Fields and smoking ban. It created a lovely intimacy that made me want to find playwright Ellen Fairey and say "I live in Chicago too. We are so connected." Probably the best compliment to Fairey's tight script, the end came much too swiftly. But what else would you expect from a play set in a cemetery?

When asked to describe Graceland with three words, here are the responses from my seat mates... Joe: observant, dramedy and absorbing; Bill: funny, witty, humorous, familiar; Dick: Sorkinian, funny, actor-ish.

WAITING FOR THE SHOW
Having inaccurately judged the play's locale, I suggested Jaiyen's on Broadway, a sushi-thai-BYOB restaurant. Bill and I went for the old standby, crab rangoon - delicious. The venture into new territory, chive dumpling was a lesson learned. Jaiyen's menu was promoting their seasonal sushi rolls to "beat the winter blues." The menu might have been dated but the rolls proved tasty, especially the asparagus Christmas one. The service was quick and friendly. As one of their two tables, we were out the door in 45 minutes making my error in distance a non-issue.

Post show, we headed to Firefly on Halsted, always a cozy choice for a bite and drink later in the evening. Firefly has been around for a while and showing signs of decay. Bill reported the bathroom was dirty without paper towels or a working lock. For me, it's the clientele transformation. It's been Lincoln-park-afied, lots of Trixies. It makes me long for the boystown bar days when it was wall-to-wall good looking men with a sprinkling of the occasional fag hag. For a moment, I considered buying the house a round and going home and shooting myself in the head. Instead, I opted for the beignets with caramel sauce followed by only a momentary inkling of regret.

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