Category: Barrel of Monkey

Review: That’s Weird Grandma–The Holiday Special Returns (Barrel of Monkeys, 2016)

Deanna Myers performs Santa’s Mean Day           
      

That’s Weird Grandma:
  The Holiday Special Returns

Written by CPS students
Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Jan 2  |  tix: $6-$12  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

December 21, 2016 | 0 Comments More

A stockingful of holiday shows in Chicago for 2016!

 

Ariana Burks stars as Clara in The Nutcracker, House Theatre Chicago 2Jason Groff stars as Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas, Broadway ChicagoLisa Gaye Dixon as Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol at Goodman TheatreFrancis Guinan and Travis Turner in Twist Your Dickens or Scrooge You, Second City Goodman TheatreErica Stephan stars as Irene Roth in Crazy for You, Drury Lane TheatreJoe Foust and Larry Yando in A Christmas Carol, Goodman Theatre

The Chicago theater community will again produce a wide array of Christmas and holiday plays, musicals, ballets and comedies in 2016, all designed to put you in a festive mood.  Find the entire list of holiday offerings below

November 30, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: That’s Weird Grandma–The Holiday Special (Barrel of Monkeys, 2015)

Tai Palmgren in "The Marshmallow," part of Barrel of Monkey's "That's Weird, Grandma: The Holiday Special," written by CPS students, directed by Joseph Shupbach. (photo credit: Evan Hanover)         
      
That’s Weird, Grandma:
  The Holiday Special
 

Written by CPS Students
Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Dec 28  |  tix: $6-$12   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

November 27, 2015 | 1 Comment More

Review: That’s Weird, Grandma – Winter Matinees (Barrel of Monkeys)

Michael Govier, Tom Malinowski and Zeke Sulkes star in Barrel of Monkeys' "That's Weird, Grandma: Winter Matinees," directed by Jason Sperling. (photo credit: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent)        
       
That’s Weird, Grandma:
    Winter Matinees
  

Written by Chicago Public School students 
Adapted by Barrel of Monkeys 
Directed by Jason Sperling
at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map) 
thru March 23  |  tickets: $6-$12   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Chicago’s Weird, Grandma (Barrel of Monkeys)

Linsey Falls, Eunice Woods, Emjoy Gavino, Erick Deshaun Dorris, Laura McKenzie and Lindsey Dorcus star in Barrel of Monkeys' "Chicago's Weird, Grandma," adapted by Jessica Hudson, directed by Molly Brennan. (photo credit: Beth Bullock)        
      
Chicago’s Weird, Grandma

Short stories written by CPS students
Adapted by Jessica Hudson
Directed by Molly Brennan 
at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Dec 2  |  tickets: $6-$12   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review 
     

November 9, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Chicago’s Weird, Grandma (Barrel of Monkeys)

Ataleee Judy of BONEdanse, one of the participants in Barrel of Monkeys' "Chicagos Weird Grandma", directed by Molly Brennan. (photo credit: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent)        
       
Chicago’s Weird, Grandma 

Directed by Molly Brennan  
The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Dec 17   |  tickets: $6-$12   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

October 14, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: That’s Weird, Grandma – Holiday Edition (Barrel of Monkeys)

A scene from Barrel of Monkey's "That's Weird, Grandma - Holiday Edition," directed by Molly Brennan.       
      
That’s Weird, Grandma 
       Holiday Edition
  

By students from Chicago Public Schools
     and Chicago Park District
Directed by Molly Brennan
The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Jan 2  |  tickets: $5-$10   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets  
         
        Read entire review
     

December 24, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: That’s Weird, Grandma (Barrel of Monkeys)

Innovative art springs from the minds of babes

 

That's Weird, Grandma - Barrel of Monkeys - Photo by Erich Nerger (2)

Barrel of Monkeys presents:

That’s Weird, Grandma

Open Run at the Neo-Futurists  (more info)

review by Keith Ecker

Chicago is not lacking in the comedy department. I’ve met accountants who do improv comedy by night and schoolteachers who do stand-up. There are no less than three prominent comedy institutions in the city—Second City, iO and the Annoyance Theatre—not to mention the smaller contenders, including The Playground Theater, the Cornservatory, Chemically Imbalanced Comedy, pH Productions and ComedySportz.

That's Weird, Grandma - Barrel of Monkeys - Photo by Erich Nerger (5) Perhaps this saturation is to compensate for the depressing and long Chicago winters we have to suffer through. Regardless, saturation is the key term. How much comedy can one sit through before you feel like you’ve heard the same joke a hundred times over? Who do we turn to for comedy that pushes the boundaries while delivering fresh material?

The answer is the children.

Theatre company Barrel of Monkeys has tapped into the genius that is Chicago’s public school students and mined the young minds for comedic gems. And what they deliver is absolutely fascinating, often surreal and at times extraordinarily touching.

The show That’s Weird Grandma, which plays weekly at the Neo-Futurists space in Andersonville, is a fast-paced variety show of child-written stories adapted to the stage by the talented theatre group. Each week, the cast slots out one to three sketches, resulting in a completely new show every few weeks.

That’s Weird Grandma is only a small component of the Barrel of Monkeys franchise, which consists of an ambitious educational outreach program that teaches kids about creative writing. Since the program began, the group has worked in 32 Chicago Public Schools, and more than 7,000 students have participated in its workshops. There is also an after-school program in Loyola Park Field House in Rogers Park.

That's Weird, Grandma - Barrel of Monkeys - Photo by Erich NergerThe show I saw consisted of 16 sketches, each lasting no more than several minutes. Sketches were presented in rapid-fire succession, and each was given an introduction that included the name and school of the student who had written the piece. Most of the pieces were completely fictitious though a couple were reflections of real life, including the hilarious scene “My Dad at Panda Express,” which features an angry father chewing out a young and confused Panda Express employee for neglecting to save any orange chicken for him.

Music accompanies every scene, and many sketches are musical in nature. For example, “Kool-Yummm” is a lyrical ode to Kool-Aid and features a hip-hop jam from the big red pitcher himself, the Kool-Aid Man.

As mentioned, the comedy captures the surreal minds of children in a way that celebrates their imaginations. That's Weird, Grandma - Barrel of Monkeys - Photo by Erich Nerger (4)You’re not laughing at them; you’re laughing with them. For instance, “W-I-A-R-D” is a bewildering scene about three girls, one of which is named Monkey, who find a note on the ground. What does the note say? “It say Jogococo.” Is this explained? No. Does it need an explanation? No. This is an unfiltered reflection of the hyperactive imaginations that rises out of the minds of babes, and that is satisfying enough.

The show wouldn’t be as amazing if it wasn’t for the talented cast, many of whom received training at the aforementioned comedy powerhouses. Their energy is big,; their commitment is strong; and their singing abilities are solid. Two of the cast members even swapped out seats at the piano to provide the accompaniment.

That’s Weird, Grandma is appropriate for all ages and has mass appeal. Scripts are tweaked so that some subtle jokes for the adults are thrown in, but the material in general is the stuff that everyone can relate to, from sisters ruining lives to parents ignoring children.

If you’re looking for something beyond Second City’s political humor, iO’s long-form improv and the Annoyance’s in-your-face comedy, That’s Weird, Grandma fills a Dadaist niche all its own that is much more than child’s play.

 

Rating: ★★★★

 A scene from the story 'Big Riders' from 'That's Weird, Grandma'

Performance Dates, Times and Location

"That’s Weird, Grandma" is currently running Sunday afternoons at 2 PM. Our Sunday matinee shows continue through April 4, and our 8 PM Monday night shows return on March 15.

The show runs a little over an hour.

"That’s Weird, Grandma" is presented at the  Neo Futurists Theatre, located at 5153 N. Ashland Ave., on the corner of Ashland and Foster in Chicago.

That's Weird, Grandma - Barrel of Monkeys - Photo by Erich Nerger (3) Kids and actors join in the fun during a public school performance.

February 16, 2010 | 0 Comments More