Tuesday, September 5, 2017

REVIEW: Route 66 Theatre Company Delights at The Den With Fiercely Funny Dark Comedy

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar: 

By Halley Feiffer
Directed by Keira Fromm 

All production photos by Brandon Dahlquist

Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we found "A Funny Thing..." long on laughs as well as long on the title. This show is not for the prudish or humorless, but if you're one to embrace the comfort of raunchy jokes and inappropriate actions during difficult times, this play will resonate. This show explores life, death, loss, fear, love, sex, vibrator jokes, money, drugs, kindness, cruelty, laughs, tough family ties, and everything including the bathroom sink!

Sometimes under stress, laughing is as necessary as crying, and I ended up empathizing with and rooting for this endearing pair of strangers, thrown together in a hospital room, keeping their near catatonic mothers company in the cancer center. Their relationship ranged from hostile and antagonistic to altruistic, and eventually even lustful. The curtain became an ingenious device for dividing and uniting the disparate personalities on stage, nearly as effectively as a locked door. Sometimes the need to commiserate overpowers the socially prescribed expectations of privacy.

A Funny Thing explores the absurdities of loving the dying in the face of fears, and the complicated intricacies of family relationships, in a rawly human way that's utterly compelling. I thoroughly enjoyed watching preconceived notions fall away, as these characters became better acquainted, developed a rapport, and truly opened up to one another in a beautifully vulnerable way.

Halley Feiffer's script is packed with a brilliant balance of deep truths and melancholy moments offset by cringe worthy dark humor and laugh out loud zingers. This cast of 4 has impeccable comedic timing, even the two who can elicit laughs lying down on the job. Highly recommended.

Click HERE to read more about the show and for ticket purchasing links.

Chicago Premiere!
Route 66 Theatre Company Presents

August 24 – September 23, 2017 at The Den Theatre

A FUNNY THING… features Judy Lea Steele, Meg Thalken, Stef Tovar and 
Mary Williamson.

A foul-mouthed twenty-something comedienne and a middle-aged man embroiled in a nasty divorce are brought together unexpectedly when their cancer-stricken mothers become roommates in the hospital. Together, this unlikely duo must negotiate some of life’s biggest challenges... while making some of the world’s most inappropriate jokes. Can these two very lost people learn to laugh through their pain and lean on each other when all they really want to do is run away?

The Den Theatre’s Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Regular run: Thursday, August 31 – Saturday, September 23, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets: $35 adults; $20 students. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets are currently available at

Director Keira Fromm comments, "A Funny Thing… is a play about the ways we use humor as both a balm and a barrier to protect us from the litany of life's discomforts. I'm drawn to plays about the ways in which we cope with life. When those plays involve surviving spiky family relationships, I'm all in. Halley Feiffer is no-holds-barred when it comes to showing extremely flawed individuals at their messiest. She's also completely fearless when it comes to exposing the raw spots that result from the friction of our most fragile family relationships. This play is unbelievably funny one moment and moving in the most throat-grabbing of ways the next. I can't wait to dig in."

Route 66 Theatre Company
Route 66 Theatre Company develops, produces and exports plays, musicals and concerts for the stage that embrace the American spirit of exploration and risk.

The Road Begins when our Chicago Premieres head west and are given an advocate for further regional productions along the road less traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles. Since the company’s founding, Route 66 has produced eight Equity full productions in both Chicago and LA, including an Off-Broadway premiere, has been nominated for five Jeff Awards and won two. The company is also the recipient of the 2017 Broadway In Chicago Emerging Theatre Award. Route 66 is a resident company at The Den Theatre. For additional information, visit

Route 66 is Stef Tovar, Founder and Artistic Director; Rachel Wendte, Managing Director; Matthew Bonaccorso, Company Manager and Kelly Parker, Casting Director

Route 66 Theatre Company Artistic Associates: Brian Sidney-Bembridge, Audrey Billings, Johnny Clark, Brandon Dahlquist, Raymond Fox, Damon Kiely, Ron Klier, Jenni Lamb, Tyler Meredith, John Mohrlein, Kelly Parker, Geoff Rice, Emily Rohm, Tricia Small, Jeremy Sonkin, Alex Stage, Nancy Staiger, Erica Stephan, Bethany Thomas, Rita Vreeland, Steven Wilson, Rachel Wendte and Emily Woods.

Route 66 Theatre Company Board of Directors: Jennifer Baumann, President; Deborah Haimes, Vice-President of Communications; Nicholas Stone, Treasurer; Molly Crabtree, Secretary; Elizabeth Derrico, David and Monica Byrd, Lee Dickson, Laurie Hamilton, Tammy Rosenzweig, Pat Turnbull and Robert Veasey.

Route 66 Theatre Company’s 9th Season is presented by generous grants from MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency and DCASE CityArts. 

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