Let Me Count | Chicago Fringe Festival 2011 review

The title of Kate Healy's new solo piece can be read at least a couple of ways. It could be an interjection, asking for time for the thoroughly charming young writer-performer add up her personal inventory in response to the questions she's asked by a clipboarded survey she's given in the undefined limbo in which the show opens. How many crushes? How many hookups? How many totally irrational fears? How frequently has she been roped into unwanted conversations about her height ("Six-foot-two. Okay, six-foot-three.")?

But the phrase "Let me count," of course, can also be read as an entreaty—let me matter. And as this absorbing work plays out, expertly paced by Healy and her director, Bailey Rose Murphy, we start to hear through both the wryly revealed statistics and the interspersed bits of solo scene work Healy's ultimate desire to have made a difference, and why, in the context of this piece, that wish carries so much import. As a performer, Healy is never less than engaging, even if the bare-wall acoustics of the Doppler Stage space prove unforgiving. What seems at first just a particularly clever, numbers-heavy recontextualizing of the confessional turns into what may end up the smartest, funniest and most affecting solo piece of this year's Chicago Fringe. Healy's well-crafted work deserves to count as a breakout hit.

More from the Chicago Fringe Festival 2011

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)