AFTER ITALY, at the Playground. In his first solo performance in Chicago–and his first performance since returning to the States after living in Italy–improviser George Savino is charming as himself. He leads us through the story of his three years overseas, a sojourn he began at the age of 40, telling us about some of his romantic conquests, friends, favorite picnic spots, and encounters with his personal demons. It’s all done with a light touch and a self-deprecating grin, although he occasionally punctuates his stories with outbursts of campy hysteria, especially when he talks about coming out or coming on to Italians.

The evening opens with a slide show as we file into the storefront Playground. It’s fun to see these nameless places and people flash by in snapshot after snapshot and imagine we’ll get to know them. But of course, as in any travelogue, we also get to know Savino, who sips wine and talks in the practiced tones of someone who’s told these stories over and over in his living room. After Italy is perfect for travel buffs and armchair travelers, and despite Savino’s somewhat self-effacing style, it’s rather inspiring: this man made his dream come true and returned to tell the tale. –Carol Burbank