Huddled for Stories in the Dark @ Lifeline Theatre

Huddled for Stories in the Dark @ Lifeline Theatre

Theatre Review by Angela Allyn

January 15, 2017

4 Stars out of 4

I imagine that theater as a form began with humans huddled around a fire at night, listening to stories. The aptly named Lifeline Theatre returns to this most ancient and meaningful human tradition each dead of winter with Fillet of Solo Festival, an intimate gathering for three weekends of powerful live literature in two neighborhood venues in gentrifying Rogers Park. You can dip in to this “one voice, one story” experience on the way to the local pub, or you can make it an immersion with a fest pass.

It is impossible to review everyone in this wild roster of tale tellers ranging from senior citizen newbie storytellers in the GeNarrations Project to the pros in longtime Chicago institution Sweat Girls, but opening weekend I caught two full plates at this banquet. First up was Tellin Tales Theatre headlined by the acid wit of Tekki Lomnicki. Her bill, themed Bad Decisions, kicked off with Lindsay Porter in an eloquent and touching oral history of looped time and wrong turns to her best decision: her son. We moved on to Tamara Rozofsky and her Three Reasons Not to Dance. Tamara is in a motorized wheelchair and her beautiful and funny story opens us up to looking at the world with new eyes. Sassy and not for younger and more sensitive listeners Amy Eaton next took us on a wild ride through her raging whore years looking back through the lens of a now quiet domestic life: I smell a seed of a memoir book here. And finally Tekki takes us on a trip with Yulapa. Tekki is a totally full frontal little person who pulls no punches and gets us into her shoes and life. She is also a polished comedian who knows how to land a punch line. If you see her on a bill, go, because you will laugh so hard you will cry. You will also start wondering why your bad decisions are not as fruitful as these.

Down the street was Serving the Sentence: every second Sunday, 7:30 pm at the Heartland Café, storytellers take the same first sentence and drive their tales in the wilds of fact or fiction. Produced, anchored and MC’d by veteran tale teller Kendra Stevens, this bill featured Tori Szekeres, Lisa Scott, Sarah Weidmann, Heather Corallo, Jamie Holesha starting their stories with "Friends will tell you when you're being a jerk." Corallo’s masterful and surreal account of her mother collecting baby teeth is a stand out, and Scott’s fictional story was too true to be made up. Alcohol was a catalyst for many of these stories as well as for the Tellin Tales bill, and that seemed fitting, as it is as old as humanity, this need to loosen the tongue before baring the soul.

We are going to need good strong stories going into this next era. I imagine and kinda hope it will be as disruptive and eventually positive as the end of the 60’s, and we will need our tale tellers to help us keep our keels in the water. Grab a Lifeline and head over to the Fillet of Solo. You NEED this.

Fillet of Solo plays for the next two weekends (until January 29) at Lifeline (6912 N Glenwood Avenue) and the Heartland Studio Theatre a few blocks north ( 7016 N Glenwood Avenue. For a complete schedule go here: or call them at 773-761-4477.