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Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014

In Tandem's One-Man Comedy

Artist steals dog in 'Chesapeake'

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Photo by Ross Zentner
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It’s a story about art. It’s a story about communication. It’s a story about the comedy of deep, interpersonal connection. But above all it is a story. In Tandem’s production of the one-actor comedy Chesapeake is well worth seeing because it tells a good story. Matt Daniels is the one telling it. As the story opens, he is a performance artist targeted by a conservative politician for being obscene. The artist is getting government grant money. The politician tells the press that a pornographer is getting government funding and it secures him re-election. The performance artist is upset that he has been used as a pawn by a political machine. So he endeavors to kidnap the politician’s dog and enact some artistic revenge on him.

Daniels cuts an even balance between the provocative intellectual side of Lee Blessing’s script and the more visceral emotional pacing of the story. What the artist embarks upon is essentially a well-intentioned misadventure. Will it end with adversaries coming to a greater understanding? Absolutely. Aside from a rather serious twist after intermission, the story is actually quite predictable. Daniels does a brilliant job of keeping it emotionally genuine even when the story itself feels profoundly surreal. He delivers the poetry of Blessing’s words to the stage with a respectable earthiness that keeps it firmly grounded in reality. Most importantly, Daniels is good enough at what he’s doing that an audience member can rather quickly lose track of the fact that they’re watching a single man talk onstage for a couple of hours. It’s that simple. 

Chesapeake runs through March 16, at the 10th Street Theatre, 628 N. 10th St. For tickets, call 414-271-1371 or visit intandemtheatre.org.