Chicago’s performance scene in the late eighties and early nineties was an embarrassment of riches: notables like Ira Glass and David Sedaris took what they perfected here to national fame and fortune. But an equally successful, more diverse player in a sprawling, multi-disciplinary scene, painter, poet and actor Tony Fitzpatrick delivers the compelling stories and images that brought him to prominence.
Steppenwolf hosts this latest incarnation in its Garage, and I’m guessing Fitzpatrick wouldn’t have it any other way. His work is unabashedly populist, reminding us of the decency that went hand-in-hand with the violent struggles of yesteryear, a dignity forgotten in today’s savage, PC times.
The piece isn’t perfect; musical commentary by the plaintive Kat Eggleston and the reliable Buzz Kilman is underused. Fitzpatrick seemed to be searching at times, which kept him from connecting. But watching Tony Fitzpatrick search is still more interesting than watching what other performers find. (Lisa Buscani)
16th Street Theater at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 North Halsted, (312)335-1650, through August 1.