What doesn’t happen in this one-man show, late of the New York Fringe Festival, is almost as remarkable as what does. Writer-performer Dave Mowers has a talent for understated character impressions, but his range never becomes the topic. He’s unabashedly gay, which figures strongly in his reminiscences of adolescence, but sexuality issues never dominate. And despite a lot of undeniable navel gazing, his stories rarely get stalled in the particular: Mowers’s self-involvement is more than matched by his self-awareness. Scrupulous avoidance of these classic pitfalls aside, Mowers is a gifted storyteller in the Spaulding Grey vein, and an even better wordsmith. His elegant, sculpted sentences evoke the milieu of 70s southern California with a literary efficiency, almost every phrase serving a discrete, painterly purpose. His warmth onstage is mirrored by clear affection for his characters and a profound identification with youthful desire. And under Christian Parker’s admirably invisible direction, his relaxed, conversational rapport with the audience is unflagging–a small miracle in the famously distancing Skybox space. Check out Mowers’s first Chicago appearance while you have the chance–who knows when he’ll be back. The Second City, Donny’s Skybox Studio, Piper’s Alley, 1608 N. Wells (fourth floor), 312-337-3992 or 877-778-4707. Through February 23: Saturdays, 8 PM. $10.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paedric O’Sullivan.