That's Weird, Grandma! is a riotous song/dance/skit collection from the creative writing of Chicago public schoolkids. The actor-educators of the Barrel of Monkeys company workshop with the kids in the schools and after school programs to bring the students' words to life, then give them a second life on stage at the Neo-Futurist Theater in Andersonville.
When I read "Space Horses in Space" and "Sad Microwave" from the program to Mia and Nora before the show, we were intrigued, but not sure how the Monkeys could make interesting theater from early-reader efforts such as "the dog was dead. He Hit His Head and He come Back to life."
Oh, were we wrong. From the first dancing meatloaf skit to the rapping grannies, we were giggling, grooving, hurting our hands in wild applause and screaming cheers for the gorgeous music and hysterical jokes. When the cast of fourteen emerged in choir robes and rocked the house harmonizing "Abe Lincoln helped the people to see!" while their girlish "Abe" hammed it up and down the aisles, I was choking with laughter and tears.
Such inventive stagecraft -- you must see what the Monkeys do with a pair of bike handlebars and an empty picture frame in Giovanny's "There Was Nothing."
The presence of the show's young writers is palpable. The performers, who are also the writers' teachers, credit them before each song and their admiration for the work is obvious. There's a stream of Montessori child respect here that deepens the pieces and makes me want to see more. Luckily, every That's Weird, Grandma performance showcases different work, so we can return to more fun.
Don't miss the March shows on Sundays at 2:00!
Theater Address:Neo-Futurist Theater
5153 N. Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640