Alan Klasky Never Loved Me

Some slick performers throw a lot of glitz and technique at you and hope you won’t notice the lack of content. I prefer more rough-hewn artists, like Karen Finley, with something to say and just enough technique to say it. Even better are attitude-free performers with real stories to tell, like San Francisco-based Nena St. Louis. In her current show she recounts the story of her odd, ambivalent love affair with an eccentric, talented, but socially and sexually inept art student, Alan Klasky. St. Louis isn’t very polished–she tells her story in much the same way you might at a party–and though she’s an energetic, kinetic performer, she doesn’t move with the grace of someone trained in this or that dancelike discipline. What St. Louis does have is a born storyteller’s sense of how to pace her story, how much detail to give us, and when to move on. We ride the emotional peaks and valleys with her as her relationship with Klasky progresses from mild interest to flirtation to a strong sexual attraction. We fall in love along with her–and when it becomes clear that Klasky loves his art more than he loves St. Louis, we too are disappointed, a feeling enhanced by the way St. Louis spikes the moment with bittersweet comedy. Too many slicker, better-funded performers can’t pull that trick off. Over the years Voltaire has been home to dozens of rough but ready performers, so it’s only fitting that in the space’s final weeks–the gig is up May 15–Voltaire would play host to someone like St. Louis. Voltaire, 3231 N. Clark, 773-348-3612. Opens Thursday, May 7, 7 PM. Through May 10: Friday-Sunday, 7 PM. Then May 11 through 15: Monday-Wednesday, 9 PM; Friday, 11 PM. $10.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still uncredited.