Man Boobs, billed as a dark comedy making its Chicago premier at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, definitely leans more toward the dark part of the description.
The one act play with just two actors deals with the fourth date of two bearish men. Rick Heintz plays Spence, an archivist with some serious body issues and Michael Hampton plays Marty, the much more laidback and relaxed truck driver. Full disclosure: I’ve actually known Rick for years. So I was impressed with how I was sold on seeing him as the very shy and literate Spence. Rick did have some of the toughest work with both an extended, heart-wrenching monologue and some shocking emotional displays. He carried that burden very well and had me believing how hard the whole situation was for Spence.
Which isn’t to say that Michael wasn’t working just as hard. He was the one bringing much of the comedy side in to the performance, having many of the funniest lines in the play and getting the biggest laughs. But he was equally adept and showing the sensitive, nurturing side of Marty to life. The two of them together are a great team in bringing to life a couple who are at the very beginning of a relationship and letting the lid off the emotional landmines that do occur in relationships.
However, the play, written by J. Julian Christopher, was closer to a dramedy than a true dark comedy. I saw a lot of similarities between Man Boobs and Julian’s recent web television series Bulk, at least with characterization. Very well written and definitely riveting, but not what I’d call a comedy. It’s well worth the time to watch, but not something for a lighthearted date.
The final performance is at Mary’s Attic on Thursday, March 15. Tickets are $15.