Theater: it’s not just for the theater anymore. Through early June, Walkabout Theater, best known for its “toilet tour” production of “Downsize” two summers back, is staking claim to a North Side laundromat for an hour-long performance that is a wordless meditation on that weirdest of social interactions—rubbing elbows with complete strangers, while sorting through your soileds. It is a must-see, if only because it’s so damn nice to actually see a show staged somewhere other than a theater. The set is simply the laundromat, as is, complete with fluorescent lighting and a sign posted on the change machine that reads: “Insert! dollar bill/wrinkle or worn bills may reject.” The long, narrow, wood-paneled room has a quaint mom-and-popness to it, and the space lends itself nicely to the disparate characters that, for lack of any names listed in the program, I will identify here as: Hunter S. Thompson, Tracksuit, Business Bitch, Pixie and Red Shirt. Thompson, muttering gibberish with a cigarette clenched between his teeth, hauls in a sack of laundry that contains a human being (Pixie) who literally births herself into a nearby laundry basket. Meanwhile, Tracksuit crawls out of a dryer—he’s been in there the whole time?—and Business Bitch strides in jabbering on her cell phone. She proceeds to shimmy out of her underpants—while still fully clothed—in a method that brings to mind the “Flashdance” bra removal technique. It’s kind of interesting to know that can be done. Somewhere along the line Red Shirt has entered and snipped away a hole in his T-shirt near the left nipple. The entire group loads and starts their washers simultaneously, and the subsequent whooshing soundscape is hypnotic. Though portions of “Pyscho-So-Matic” drag—there are some free-form dance elements that are repetitive and a bit tiresome—overall this is one of the most playful shows in town. And if you can’t score a seat inside, you can watch just as easily by standing outside and staring through the storefront windows. (Nina Metz)
Walkabout Theater’s “Psycho-So-Matic” plays at Speed Wash Laundromat, 4721 North Damen, (312)458-0566, through June 4.