The Dodo Bird

It seems that whenever homegrown talent like Gary Sinise or John Mahoney returns, everybody gets all warm and sticky about it. Which is fine, except that we too often take for granted the talents of many performers who are every bit those actors’ equals yet have chosen to remain here. Stephan Turner, laboring in relative obscurity for four years now with his Stage Actors Ensemble, is one of the best. Inaugurating the company’s new space are remounts of Charles Gordone’s Pulitzer Prize-winning No Place to Be Somebody (which opens this weekend) and Emanuel Fried’s The Dodo Bird. I’ve seen and praised Turner for his frightening, magnetic performance as a small-time hoodlum longing for the big time in Gordone’s play, but his work in Fried’s somewhat preachy, dated piece is even more of a revelation. As the downtrodden alcoholic Dodo waiting for his daughter in a rough tavern, Turner is hypnotic, commanding attention with every twitch of his body and every painfully uttered syllable. You may quibble with Fried’s prose, which hits you over the head with its metaphors, or a couple of unconvincing supporting performances, but Turner alone is worth the price of admission. Stage Actors Ensemble of Chicago, Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, Performance Left, 656 W. Barry, 773-529-8337. Through October 5: Thursdays, 7:30 PM; Fridays, 10 PM; Saturdays-Sundays, 7:30 PM. $14. –Adam Langer

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