“Dangerous” is the operative word in this sense-assaulting multimedia performance–though the word’s meaning pitches back and forth throughout the production like a ship caught in a violent storm. “I got dangerously close to learning something” is the mantra repeated by each of the eight teenage performers in Skeptics–and the danger zone seems to be the American educational system. Ironically, the less structure these high school-age characters have, the more education they get–and learning is the ultimate tool for self-actualization, a fact underscored by a recurring image of the actors studiously reading from the stacks of books resting on either side of the stage. But from the moment they enter a school’s labyrinthine hallways, all the usual adolescent concerns–from suicidal impulses to the questioning of our earthly purpose–start creeping out of the woodwork to threaten them. Skeptics represents two important firsts for MadJoy Theatrics, formerly TeenStreet: it’s the first ensemble-generated piece, written under the tutelage of director Ron Bieganski and Bryn Magnus, to be staged under this brand-new performance arm and the first production to incorporate video footage the teens created themselves. But the ultimate effect remains much the same as in TeenStreet shows: this is mind-bending multifaceted theater that tackles the great leap from adolescence to adulthood with jaw-dropping sophistication and courage. Free Street, Pulaski Park, 1419 W. Blackhawk, 773-772-7248. Through May 18: Friday, 7 PM; Saturday, 2 PM. $10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Anita Evans.