"Butcher of Baraboo" (A Red Orchid Theatre): Prime Cut of Comedy Marinated in Intrigue

"Butcher of Baraboo" (A Red Orchid Theatre):  Prime Cut of Comedy Marinated in Intrigue

#111. Secrets were fun when I was young.  Knowing who cheated on a test, who liked liked someone, who pissed his pants was important.  As I’ve gotten older, ‘it’s a secret‘ becomes a burdensome request.  Knowing who cheated on his tax return, who liked liked someone’s husband, who pissed off her boss has lost it’s allure.  The secret is particularly deadly if the information is conjecture.

A Red Orchid Theatre presents BUTCHER OF BARABOO. Jack has been missing for a year.  Is he dead or alive?  No one knows for sure but his family has their suspicions.  His sister, Gail the cop, suspects his wife, Valerie the butcher, of wrongdoing.  Valerie is acting edgy lately.  And she has a jug of blood in the frig and plenty of cutlery. His 30-year old daughter Midge isn’t talking... about anything.  Meanwhile, she’s suspected of canoodling with minors and drugging relatives. And just when this family couldn’t get any weirder, Uncle Devon and Aunt Sevenlyn move in next door with secrets of their own.  In this family of crazy, who is the real killer? BUTCHER OF BARABOO serves up a prime cut of comedy marinated in intrigue.

Playwright Marisa Wegrzyn penned an absurd mystery.  Her ordinary Wisconsin folk take on dark personas in this clever farce. Wegrzyn gathers a flock of red herrings and slits their throats one by one.  It’s clever and zany.  Under the direction of Shade Murray, the audience easily pulls up a chair into this family’s kitchen table saga. Murray keeps the comedy and drama riveting and tense.  The matriarch of the show is Kirsten Fitzgerald (Valerie) doing what she does best, cutthroat comedy.  Fitzgerald has an uncanny timing for satire.  Her delivery of a quip is a guaranteed chuckle.  In this show, potential depravity percolates under her humorous veneer.  It’s bloodthirsty delicious!

Natalie West (Gail) adds her own wacky-Barney-Fife-ness.  As a big fan of the “Roseanne” television show, I see and hear West as her signature Crystal character.  And that just adds to my enjoyment because West/Crystal goes full-on lampoon and it’s gut-busting hilarious.  A seemingly innocent Lara Phillips (Sevenly) brings her own soft-spoken caricature to the farce.  Phillips is nutty funny.  This show is a riot except when it’s not.  There are thrilling moments of abrupt anxiety.  At the show I saw, understudy Mary Williamson (Midge) played her defiant character with a nice blend of surly and amicable.  Williamson was a great addition to this dark family comedy.

I almost missed this show but enough people told me to *fit it in* so I did.  And I'm so glad!  It's no secret.  BUTCHER OF BARABOO cuts it up with a big old meat cleaver!

Running Time:  Two hours includes an intermission

At A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells

Written by Marisa Wegrzyn

Directed by Shade Murray

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm

Sundays at 3pm

Thru June 3rd

Buy Tickets at www.aredorchidtheatre.org

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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