Inspired by a night of swapping CTA commuting stories with friends, director Thomas Murray interviewed and recorded dozens of Chicagoans’ transit tales, adapting them for the stage nearly verbatim. Played out in a style reminiscent of Funny or Die’s “Drunk History” shorts, the resulting compilation is an engaging hour-long trip on the Red Line from Jackson to Howard with a vignette representing each stop. In a risky move that paid off when I saw it, the final leg of the journey is supplied by a volunteering audience member’s story immediately reenacted by the troupe. There’s a heavy emphasis on “crazies,” which is understandable considering how memorable those episodes can be, but this focus simplifies the EL experience; the few stories about random connections with other riders work best. The language patterns used point to storytellers with similar viewpoints and reminded me that this Red Line doesn’t go south of Jackson. (Zach Freeman)
Waltzing Mechanics at the Edgewater Presbyterian Church, 1020 West Bryn Mawr, (773)293-3682. Through February 23.