Five people onstage One is only visible from the legs down. They appear to be chasing each other while holding various objects in their hands
Living out of Spite, devised by Alexis Atwill as part of Ten 2023 at Gift Theatre Credit: Stuti Sharma

What can you say in ten minutes? If the ten examples in the Gift’s triumphant return production of its long-running series are any indication, anything and everything. 

Ten 2023
Through 5/22: Mon and Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM; Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee,, $10

A mother agonizes over getting her eight-year-old an iPhone. A young man acts out revelations from his childhood telenovela-style. A Da Bears type chafes at COVID-related changes before being rescued by the target of his abuse. A first date skips forward to a deathbed farewell and many points in between. An improv team riffs on audience suggestions in a local tradition as old as deep-dish pizza. A Chicago Lab School summer camp counselor reminisces about watching over some of the city’s most kidnappable children. A theater company agonizes over what to cut from their production of The Seagull while reining in each member’s boundaryless ego. Doctors hold a secret meeting to suss out a response to an existential threat to their profession. An old man and young woman in a park talk past and around one another to show the incompatibility of one another’s love languages before somehow coming together. Five people bang noisemakers, scream out rhymes, and dance anarchically to purge their collective and individual lockdown traumas.

The wonder of this show is how within each short increment some pieces feel expansive while others zip by, but all suggest only a tip of an iceberg, a hint of endless comedic and dramatic possibility from a very talented theater company. It’s a miraculous grab bag without a rotten apple in the bunch.