David Kodeski is a master at using odd texts–verbatim interviews he conducted himself, old court records, obscure facts about Niagara Falls drawn from his spiel as a tour guide–as catalysts for his solo performances. Even more remarkable, though, is how much he invests in these pieces and how well his texts blossom into portals of discovery. In Another Lousy Day, first performed in 1999, he relies on a pair of diaries kept by a south-side woman named Dolores in the early 60s. Purchased from a junk shop in Andersonville, they were the jumping-off point for a show about the woman, about working-class life in Chicago 40 years ago, and about Kodeski’s growing obsession with Dolores. Another performer might have settled for easy laughs by reading diary entries out loud–they’re a hoot, filled with unintentionally funny bits, such as the author’s concern with “looking sharp” for her day on the assembly line at the Zenith factory. For Kodeski, though, the laughs are there just to disarm us and draw us in. One minute we’re laughing at Dolores, the next we’re laughing with her, and the minute after we’re wondering, like Kodeski, if there’s more information somewhere about the mysterious diary writer. From that point we’d follow Kodeski anywhere. He’s reviving Another Lousy Day for one performance only, to raise funds so he can take the show to the 2003 West Australia Fringe Festival in Perth. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 773-871-1212. Wednesday, August 21, 8 PM. $25.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jim Newberry.