Culture Magazine

Fillet of Solo Festival – Lifeline Theatre

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat


Must Be Nice - Jimmy Doyle

Fillet of Solo

thru Aug 7   |  tickets: $10 |   more info 

   Read entire review



Fillet of Solo inspires, entertains


Fillet of Solo - Lifeline Theatre


Lifeline Theatre presents


Fillet of Solo Festival

Review by Katy Walsh 

Facebook and Twitter reduce life stories into 140 character tweets or a couple sentence post.  The funny happenings that we want to share with friends are now bite size, impersonal headlines.  Sure, it’s immediate but it’s also just scanned!  LIFE stories are meant to be spoken…out loud… with humor… to inspire and entertain.  Lifeline Theatre presents the 15th Fillet of Solo Festival.  It’s three weeks of artists going solo.  Minus the campfire or kitchen table, the performers recollect a little slice of life sometimes ala mode.  The segments are more poignant than stand-up, more intimate than a monologue, and more hopeful than a rant.  To use a phrase from performer Caroline Andres, it’s ‘imagined reality.‘  The adoption of the festival (started in 1995 at Live Bait Theatre) into the LIfeline’s season is a perfect fit to their mission!  Fillet of Solo Festival IS ‘big stories, up close.‘  

On Thursday night, there were two shows.  The first was “Holy Sweat!” written and performed by the Sweat Girls.  It’s a collective of six women that have an eighteen year history of writing and performing together.  The specifics vary but the commonality is the triumph over personal adversity.  The ladies expose their vulnerable side with humbleness and humor.  There is a definite bond with the audience as the storyteller’s fear sounds familiar.  Fears!  Swimming in dark waters.  Losing a child to McDonald’s.  Mediating between a sister and a mother and hot firemen.  Watching a parent deteriorate. It’s a sisterhood of life lessons told with amusing self-deprecation.  Two performances clung to my funny bone and heart even after the curtain.  Andres hilariously recants nine months of sobriety with ‘I grew up with dressers and travelers.‘  I won’t give away her punch line, but I’m still giggling about it.  Pamela Webster, on the other hand, tells a bittersweet, witty tale about her daughter’s illness.  Webster, like myself, places the blame for the ruin of her life rightfully on Oprah’s magazine!   My sidekick for the evening, Keaton describes the show with ‘six strong ladies.’  

The second show is “Must be Nice” written and performed by Jimmy Doyle.  Irish, Catholic, Chicago, gay friends, Jimmy Doyle and I could be related.  Literally, his mother was a Walsh!  Doyle shares his passionate upbringing on the South Side.  The Doyle household had little tolerance for mixed kids (not 100% Irish), Protestants, the English, and people who didn’t have an opinion.  The Doyles were always ready for a drink, a song or a fight!  Oh yeah, it’s a relatable Irish love story!  He accompanies his reminiscing with slides of his past.  Doyle’s act is like a one-man-reality-show, “Meet the Doyles.”  He airs the family’s dirty laundry with pride and humor.  By the end of the hour, you’ll want to be invited to the next family gathering to check in on Jimmy, Lenore, Janet (aka Rosie), Billy and Kevin to see who has recently ‘pulled a Doyle!‘  As Jimmy says: ‘Life doesn’t have to be long, it can be wide.’  Altogether grand, Jimmy Doyle!  Sticking around for a second fillet, Keaton describes this show with ‘wild irish rose.’

The good news is the festival is three weeks, three venues, eleven shows and sixteen artists.  The bad news is August 5th is the LAST weekend of the festival!  Get out and experience individual’s ‘big stories, up close‘ NOW.  And mark your calendar for July 21st-August 7th, 2012 because you’re not going to want to miss it again! 

Remaining Shows for Fillet of Solo Festival:

At Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood (map)

Friday, August 5th 
7pm – “Love Thy Neighbor… Til It Hurts” (Julie Ganey)
8:30pm – “Must be Nice” (Jimmy Doyle)

Saturday, August 6th 
7pm – “Holy Sweat” (Sweat Girls)
8:30pm – “Must be Nice” (Jimmy Doyle)

At Heartland Studio Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood  (map)

Friday, August 5th
7pm – “Free Beer” (Lifeline Storytelling Project)
8:30pm – “Ferocious Love” and “We’re Getting a Badge for That” (Deb R. Lewis and Kelli Strickland)

Saturday, August 6th
7pm – “Ferocious Love” and “We’re Getting a Badge for That” (Deb R. Lewis and Kelli Strickland)
8:30pm – “Two Good Stories” (Matt Miller)

At Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse  (map)

The final performance of the Festival (James Braly’s “Life in a Marital Institution”) will be held Sunday, August 7 at 5pm, at Mayne Stage. Tickets for this special production are $20 (Festival Passes do not apply). Tickets for “Life in a Marital Institution” may be purchased from the Mayne Stage box office (773.381.4554) or through

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