By Marisa Wegrzyb
Directed by Shade Murray
At A Red Orchid Theatre, Chicago
Wacky comedy a winner that reminds me Fargo on crystal meth
Marisa Wegrzyn is a new theatrical voice with an appetite for violently dark comedy in the style of Martin McDonah. She fills her Baraboo, Wisconsin town with a wacky female cop, a meat clever wielding mother and her pharmacist daughter who has a private teen clientele for her drugs. Add the brother with the young wife and six kids who just returned from Utah that has the ingredients for a wacky dark comedy/mystery. The show nicely builds enough suspense to sustain a mystery with loads of laughs along the way. The characters are zany each with their peculiarities.
I liked The Butcher of Baraboo due to the terrific cast of misfits led by the female Barnie Fife-like cop, Gail (Natalie West in a hilariously over-the-top performance). Kirsten Fitzgerald’s Valerie is the likable yet dangerous butcher who can’t get over the disappearance (and presumed death of her husband). She is an explosion waiting to explode. Fitzgerald is scary as the nasty, unpredictable clever swinging widow. Missi Davis, as Midge, the 30 year old daughter of Valerie is the complex single pharmacist whose role in her father’s disappearance adds complexity to the plot. Gail, the town cop and sister to Valerie and Donal (HB Ward) and aunt to Midge is determined to solve the family’s secret and lies.
The zany comedy is fueled by terrific performances, especially from Natalie West, the Fargo-styled cop. The plot is bizarre yet plausible. Wegrzyn’s talent for macabre characters and weird situations unfolds her fresh talents. She is someone to keep an eye on.
Skewed family values and the deep and dark secrets they create become a life force for Valerie, the infamous butcher of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Once her husband has gone missing everyone suspects she played a hand, especially her nosy sister-in-law who just happens to be the town sheriff. Enter the drug-pushing pharmacist daughter who just might hold the key to the ultimate unanswered questions. Loss, love and family have never been so funny!
Your visit to the kitchen at Valerie’s house will yields a funny and strange dark comedy that will surprise you as much ass it will appall you. Fans of dark comedies will enjoy the trip to Baraboo on Wells Street.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2012
For more info checkout The Butcher of Baraboo page at theatreinchicago.com
At A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells Street, Chicago, IL, call 312-943-8722. www.aredorchidtheatre.org, tickets $25 – $30, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through May 20, 2012