Jeff Dorchen has always been fascinated by the Ishmaels and Cains of the world, the loners, losers, and disenfranchised who see things more clearly because they’re on the outside looking in. In Birth of a Frenchman, which he also wrote, Dorchen played a French citizen–complete with an outrageous French accent–inexplicably born to provincial American parents. And in his latest one-man show he plays three outcasts in one: a Jew among goyim, a folksinger among rock and rollers, and a white southerner adrift in the north. As in his previous work, his persona’s adventures–here, musing in the purple mountains, talking at an unexpected guest, performing before a befuddled audience–give Dorchen plenty of opportunities for slashing satirical wit (his bitter updating of Phil Ochs’s “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” is not to be missed). But there’s something new here too, a clarity and unity missing from Dorchen’s earlier work. All the fragments in the show–Cain’s drunken discourse, the concert excerpts, even the lectures on musicology–together produce a seamless portrait of a man who had the world and lost it but gained (Dorchen strongly hints) his soul. Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln, 327-6666. April 12 through May 31: Wednesdays, 7 PM; no show May 17. $7, or “pay what you can.”
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Tamara Staples.