Memory Palace Preview By Social Justice News Nexus

posted 10/26/2016


We’re grateful for the support of the Medill School of Journalism’s Social Justice News Nexus in helping to underwrite our Haunted House event this weekend. Given their interest in the project, it’s no surprise that they summarized the show better than we could ourselves! Read their excellent preview of A Memory Palace of Fear here and be sure to click the link for tickets at the end. Memory Palace is a timed entry event—we will do our best to accommodate walk-ins, but your best chance at not having to wait for an open slot is to reserve your tour in advance. See you there!

What's our ensemble doing these days?

posted 10/01/2013

Do you want to keep tabs on your favorite Theater Oobleck ensemble members? Here it is… a busy calendar of events from a busy bunch of people.

October 2 through October 19

  • Mickle Maher has authored The Pine, produced by The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston. Tell your exes who live in Texas and read the great Houston Chronicle article all about Mickle.

October 5 through November 3
  • Guy Massey appears as Fetus Two in Smokefall at the Goodman Theatre. Check out some great rehearsal photos of him.

October 12
  • David Isaacson returns to The Paper Machete at the Green Mill. It is a weekly salon in a saloon!

October 13
October 18 & 19
  • Dave Buchen (and his kids) will appear in The Singing Pictures Show at the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn. It’s a festival of cantastoria.

October 17 through December 3
  • Colm O’Reilly appears in A Red Orchid Theatre’s production of Trevor.

October 18 through November 1 (3 shows only)
  • Diana Slickman appears in the latest BoyGirlBoyGirl show, Phenomena of Materialisation with our good friends Stephanie Shaw, David Kodeski, and Edward Thomas-Herrera.

October 24 – November 16
November 9
  • David Isaacson will talk about allergies at Ray’s Tap Reading Series at the Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston, 10pm.

And in other ensemble news, Dave Buchen’s annual hand-printed calendar is done and available for purchase.

Jeff Dorchen delivers a weekly “Moment of Truth” every Saturday morning on the radio program This Is Hell. It is available for streaming or download.

Centerstage says 'Casanova' is a must-see show

posted 05/27/2010

We love the lead of this review:

“If you’re in Chicago, and you’re looking for some brilliant comic juxtapositions, go see any show produced by the folks at Theater Oobleck; they are the Brilliant Comic Juxtapositions People.”

And the rest of it isn’t so bad either! (No, actually it’s good. Very good. You can read it here.

Chicago Reader review of 'Casanova'

posted 05/27/2010

press, reviews

“In this amusing solo lecture-cum-farce, [David Isaacson] exposes the cupidity, stupidity, narcissism, and—most of all—magical thinking behind the crisis by showing how nicely it parallels the financial misadventures of a man who got in on the ground floor of laissez-faire capitalism: the legendary lover, Giacomo Casanova. . . . Charming and smart.” — Tony Adler, in the Chicago Reader

Read the full review.

The Chicago Tribune reviews 'Casanova'

posted 05/27/2010

“If the financial shenanigans that led to our economic meltdown still make your eyes glaze over, David Isaacson’s new one-man show, “Casanova Takes a Bath,” should go a long way toward rectifying that.” — or so sayeth Nina Metz in the Chicago Tribune

Read the full review

Metromix previews 'Casanova'

posted 05/20/2010

Rebecca Palmore, of Metromix, talks with David Isaacson about Casanova, bubbles, and the sensual pleasures of global finance through the ages.

Banners and Cranks is a Critics Choice

posted 04/16/2010

“With all the talk about iPads and 3-D movies, I long for a great technological leap backward, and this looks like just the thing.”

The Reader’s Tony Adler is down with the crankies.

More good words from the Tribune

posted 10/21/2009

Tribune critic Nina Metz was in the house opening night; on the strength of her review lead theater critic Chris Jones popped in last weekend. He rereviews “An Apology …” on his blog:

“Most versions of the Faust legend concentrate on whether the good doctor’s decision to sell his soul to the devil was Medieval religious folly or the acute self-actualization of a Renaissance man. Back in 1996, the Chicago writer Mickle Maher tossed away all that in favor of a raw look at the state of mind of the whiny Dr. F., just before he hits the elevator down. As performed with deliciously retro and off-kilter eloquence by the inimitably grandiose Colm O’Reilly, this fascinating piece of avant-garde Chicago brain candy will put you in mind, terrifying mind, of your own last few minutes on terra firm, whether or not you bargained away eternity.”

Centerstage says Faustus = "a must-see show"

posted 10/20/2009

Reina Hardy offers this brief assessment:

“Colm O’Reilly, one of the Fringe’s best and oddest miracles, reprises the show that kicked off his long collaboration with playwright Mickle Maher. As the time-trotting sorcerer Faust, addressing a quiet assembly of theater patrons on the precipice of hell, O’Reilly weaves a dingy but tangible magic.”

"An Apology…" Extended Through November 8

posted 10/15/2009

[Here’s the press release….]

Theater Oobleck’s “An Apology … “ Extended Through November 8; Now With Sunday Matinees!

“Playwright Mickle Maher brilliantly turns the soul-bartering magician’s bid for omniscience into a plea for meaning where there is none.” — Chicago Reader, recommended

“[Colm] O’Reilly gives a performance filled with incredible detail and subtlety, each twitch and twinge delivered in close-up. Here is an actor plainly having the time of his life.” — Chicago Tribune

“Did we mention the play’s hilarious? O’Reilly, who created the role of Mephistopheles in Apology’s 1999 premiere, now plays Faustus to frantic perfection. … Unmissable.” — Five stars, Time Out Chicago

“Maher’s play is at times maddeningly profound, silly, funny, angry, illogical, and as interpreted by the musical vocalizations of O’Reilly, completely mesmerizing. … Do yourself a favor. Go see this and bring that friend of yours that simply has no use for fringe theater. This is one of those exceptional things that can make the doubter of storefront theater a convert.” — Angry White Guy in Chicago

Thanks to rave reviews and sold-out crowds, Theater Oobleck is extending the run of Mickle Maher’s “An Apology …” through November 8. Performances are selling out fast; reservations highly recommended. For the complete critical roundup see the news feed at .

Please note we are also adding Sunday matinee performances on October 25, November 1, and November 8. Complete new performance dates and times are as follows:

Sunday, October 25, 3 PM

Friday, October 30, 8 PM
Saturday, October 31, 8 PM
Sunday, November 1, 3 PM

Friday, November 6, 8 PM
Saturday, November 7, 8 PM
Sunday, November 8, 3 PM

All performances are at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, Chicago. Tickets are $12 or pay-what-you-can — and, as ever, free if you’re broke; call 773-347-1041 or see for reservations and more.


ALSO! Don’t forget CABARET OOBLECK, Thursdays through November 4 at 7:30 PM in the Chopin’s cozy downstairs lounge. All tickets $12 or pay what you can.

Coming up this week: the premiere of a new, Faust-themed piece by percussionist Michael Zerang and pianist Jim Baker; a monologue by BoyGirlBoyGirl’s Rachel Claff; and the debut of the stage-rock duo of Chris Schoen and Jenny Magnus. All this, plus master of ceremonies David Kodeski!

Programming subject to change; for more see

Chicago Stage Review weighs in

posted 10/13/2009

We think they liked it….

“Together Maher and O’Reilly create a combination of brilliance that is alchemical. They leave a permanent tattoo on your mind, like surviving a tornado, being bitten by a Great White Shark or achieving a perfect orgasm. It taps into something beyond theater or literature. It is transdimensional, ripping an intellectual hole in the rational fabric of perceived space, time and experience. It is the stuff that universes spring from on other planes of existence.”

Full review is here.

Chicago Theater Blog review

posted 10/10/2009

Another great review, this one courtesy Paige Listerud — who was one of the first critics to see the original production at Berger Park.

“I don’t know how many have tired yet of critics comparing O’Reilly with Orson Welles. But where that comparison works in the play’s favor is in his ability to portray a genius utterly absorbed with his own self-importance. The darkness O’Reilly brings to the role doesn’t just lend gravity to Faustus’ outbursts, but creates with them an inexorably magnetic pull toward madness. “I don’t need to apologize to the whole world. I’m sick of the world,” says Faustus. Lines that could sound like clichéd world-weariness from another actor emerge from O’Reilly like a black vortex of futility, making his Faustus the evil of which he speaks. It’s a performance that unifies the Devil and the Devil’s prey.”

The Reader weighs in.

posted 10/06/2009

Short, sweet, and recommended.

“While a silent, stone-faced Mephistopheles looks on, Doctor Faustus spends his final moments on earth telling us, ‘the people of the future,’ about his day. In brief: he woke up, wrangled with his demonic sidekick over a diary filled with meaningless hatch marks, traveled in time to a 7-Eleven for snacks, and . . . that’s about it. Playwright Mickle Maher brilliantly turns the soul-bartering magician’s bid for omniscience into a plea for meaning where there is none. The monologue is delivered by Colm O’Reilly, who looks and sounds like a shabby young Orson Welles as he conveys with mesmerizing intensity Faust’s intellect, desperation, dissoluteness, and determination.”

More praise for Faustus — This time from the Trib.

posted 09/30/2009

From Nina Metz, who makes a compelling case that Colm O’Reilly = JFK + Orson Welles.

“O’Reilly gives a performance filled with incredible detail and subtlety, each twitch and twinge delivered in close-up. … Here is an actor plainly having the time of his life.”

And, another!

posted 09/28/2009

An unexpected rave from an out-of-towner:

“Shapiro is riveting in a role with one action and no lines, but it’s O’Reilly who keeps making you laugh (“I return with future beer and potatoes!” “I am a very annoyed person!”) and bringing you to tears with the wasted efforts and barely submerged regrets.

“Mickle Maher’s text is a wonder and by the time Mephistopheles turns off the lights and leaves through the other door you’re completely taken up.”

Another dispatch from opening night

posted 09/28/2009

“Do yourself a favor. Go see this and bring that friend of yours that simply has no use for fringe theater. This is one of those exceptional things that can make the doubter of storefront theater a convert.”

A lovely write up from Don Hall, the Angriest White Guy in Chicago.

Aaand … here comes our first review!

posted 09/27/2009

From Gapers Block:

“With none of the muffled anonymity of hiding behind rows of theater-goers, you and your fellow patrons become part of the play itself, causing both discomfort and a sense of common purpose and witness to O’Reilly’s masterful turn as the man who sold his soul to the devil.”

More from the blogwire … Faust! He's cheeky!

posted 09/24/2009

The site Cheeky Chicago plugs our show.

Time Out Chicago weighs in on "Faustus" then and now.

posted 09/23/2009

John Beer previews Faustus in this week’s issue of Time Out Chicago. Thanks, John!

Centerstage picks "Faustus" as a must-see!

posted 09/23/2009

“In the 1999 run of this two-character Faust legend redux, Colm O’Reilly wowed audiences by doing absolutely nothing. As Faust ranted and whined, O’Reilly (perhaps the most unnerving actor in the city) played Mephistopheles as a silent, motionless, menacing presence. The show became an enduring fringe hit. Almost a decade later, Colm returns to “Faust,” but in a new role. This time, he gets to talk.”

Go here for the full listing.