One of the advantages of living in an age when everyone is hip and the word “alternative” has become just another synonym for mainstream is that an edgy, eccentric, brilliant performer like actress-turned-junkie-turned-performance-artist Reno has a fighting chance of appealing to the masses, especially since her trademark angry wit matches the current sour national mood. (Reno is most pointed and inspired when she jokes about her adoptive ultrawhite Rockwellian family.) Even the way she lurches around the stage, lunging at the microphone and shaking her dandelion’s blossom of perm-damaged hair, seems like a sign of our times, as if the frantic way many of us live our lives–doing the work of three on part-timers’ wages–had found expression in her muscles, nerves, and hair follicles. This touring show (which also includes master mimic and monologist Danny Hoch, musician Tiye Giraud, and dancer Molissa Fenley) will make two stops in the Chicago area, one in the city and the following night in the western suburbs, and God knows they need Reno in the ‘burbs. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 722-5463 or 663-1628, Friday, February 23, 8 PM, $18-$26. College of DuPage Arts Center, main stage, 22nd and Park, Glen Ellyn, 708-942-4000, Saturday, February 24, 8 PM, $18. –Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dona Ann McAdams.