One of the best things about summer is the fact that taxes are over. Most people are happy about this. But then again, most people aren’t Barb Turb. The first character to grace the stage wasted no time lamenting over the realization that her creation TurboTax is no longer the cool kid on the block due to the time of the year. Instead of enjoying her success, Barb seemed to be on the edge of a nervous breakdown. She revealed that workweeks saw her having only “One hour of sleep per diem and seven cups of coffee.” To keep from losing it, she decided to check off items from her bucket list. First up was dressing up like a bag lady while dancing and setting off party poppers to soft rock. Living it up gave way to a reality check and Barb felt compelled to sweep up the remnants of her revelry. Before leaving the stage, Barb handled her first of many hosting responsibilities for the evening. By the time the next act came on stage, all thoughts in my head about who really created TurboTax had left the building.
“Good Day!” was comprised of Natalja Aicardi, Mitch Salm, and Leana Savoie. This physical theatre piece was mostly mimed except for brief utterings about a certain obscure company picnic. “I sure hope you bring that frittata”, Mitch offered. “It sure is scrummy!” The majority of this act saw these three performers moving frenetically to 50’s rock. The day saw the trio on the road, taking an elevator, and working in an office. After such a peculiar day, it was not surprising that the piece ended with a psychedelic dream sequence. When the alarm clock finally went off, I knew I was truly in for a surreal evening.
The next act saw Mary Cait Walthall lead five other actors in an improvised performance piece. The troupe was dressed in all black and waited patiently for “a suggester”. An audience member in the front row pushed his hand forward as if to suggest he wanted no part of this. Ironically, his simple hand gesture was all that was needed. The troupe spent the next five minutes acting as if language and the ability to walk were no longer available to them. Whether flopping like fish or futilely trying to climb a wall, it quickly became apparent that the evening’s second act had decided to double down on the quirkiness provided by the first.
While further spiraling out of control with a Malibu Rum Cocktail in hand, Barb still found the time to introduce the next act to the stage. “A wonderful lady who bends her body in ways I’ll never understand”, Barb pondered between sips. It took no time for all eyes to fixate on Javiera Reyes. This woman spent the next few minutes doing just what Barb said. Her ability to contort her body was rather entertaining but also reminded me that I really need to schedule another visit with my chiropractor.
“I Don’t Know…” was about something that we all do know. Justin Kimball and Sarah Barnhardt’s Hip hop and modern dance inspired piece chronicled the many ups and downs of a relationship.
“Sex Ed”, was comprised of Will Sonheim and Abby Pajakowski. The pairing of a tall blonde and a petite brunette brought back fond memories of the Spartan Cheerleaders sketch made famous by Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri. The awkwardness of the sketch was accentuated by the fact that two children sat in the front row. If they weren’t shaking their heads and covering their ears, they wouldn’t have learned much about this taboo subject anyway. Except that this comedic pairing was dynamic and provided one of the more memorable performances of the evening.
“Table For Two” was the most reflective and somber piece of the evening. The piece was performed by Mr. Tannenbaum’s, Puppetry which is comprised of Theresa Dewey, Katharine Houpt, Andrea Koch, Hannah Trobe, and Leah Woldman. The live music aided the adept puppetry brilliantly. The piece told the story of an old man who is visited by the spirit of his dearly departed wife on their anniversary. It ends with the realization that they are now both nothing but pictures in a frame.
To balance the mood, the next piece was very lively. “Wildest Dreams” was a sketch about two animals (Annabel Lang and Dennis Episcopo) courting in the jungle. Annabel finally gets her man (giraffe) only to lose him to another in the end.
The next act saw a Burlesque performer to the stage. Faye LaVerte danced confidently to hoots and hollers. Luckily none of them came from the children, who were taken out due to this performance.
The final act was performed by Leah Urzendowski Courser and Anthony Courser. These two clowns (no insult intended) spent the last five minutes of the show trying to find each other in a storm. With plenty of audience interaction and a humorous dance to boot, this was a great way to end a great show.
“Heels Over Head” is the brainchild of Brittany Price Anderson (Barb Turb). It can be seen the second Tuesday of each month at iO Chicago, located at 1501 N. Kingsbury. Tickets are $12.00. Call 312-929-2401.