May 20, 2014

The North Side Weekly

Last Wednesday I braved the shit weather and hit up The Public House Theatre, located in a neighborhood whose most unsettling feature is a large cemetery across from a retirement home. In retrospect, that is some very pragmatic urban organization: I can only imagine the convenience that comes from grabbing a drink and carting off Grandma all in under an hour so you can get your funeral tipsy on.

However, the focal point of my night was not old and/or dead people but rather a play called Table Manners, which set me back a 10-spot. The theater itself was somewhere between Uptown and Lakeview and looks like a storefront tucked inside a mostly residential area. The entrance to the theater area looks like someone threw together a living room inspired by the frugal side of Pinterest, but it includes a bar, so I’ll let it slide. Despite arriving late, I was able to cop some Hollywood courtside seats, which was great. I was sitting a few feet away from a thespian eating food out of her cleavage on stage. Perhaps it was a weird sexy-food homage to The Breakfast Club—just imagine if Molly Ringwald used her teenage talent well into adulthood to feed herself.

The play is directed by Cassie Ahiers and features a cast of seven women acting in several short scenes all revolving around food, with special focus on female mastication. The scenes ranged from the aforementioned Matilda-inspired cake eating to a monologue about one woman’s struggle with being fat and having an eating disorder (no, the same actor did not perform both). Somewhere in between those ends of the spectrum is a scene in which the cake-consuming lady stuffs as many marshmallows as she can into her mouth while making amusing jokes about Canadians, and a scene which gave me invaluable insight into the culture of a high school’s women’s bathroom. Overall it was a moderately clever play, but you can probably get a similar experience in a dining hall by watching a particularly famished student eat too much until it stops being funny and begins to get a little nauseating. If you want to know what it’s like to see a lineup of seven performers get all sorts of steamy with bananas while dancing in rhythm, you’re gonna have to either trek up North.

Following the theatrical performance I went to Ten Cat Tavern, a dive bar that looks like it was decorated by an aspiring interior designer whose budget was limited to the local Village Discount Outlet. Normally I just drink beer, because sometimes the key to a good night is being uncomfortably bloated, but I opted for a couple drinks of Maker’s Mark and Coke, which I sipped in the cozy back room. Apparently the bar is frequently visited by the guy who sells those terrible tamales for a dollar that I always fall victim to because I am often drunk and hungry; luckily I was spared of the questionable meat and cheese corn tubes that night. Ten Cat is a solid place if you’re really into free games of pool with old dudes or eavesdropping on couples on first dates bonding over their mutual appreciation for “this European group that is just blowing up”: Daft Punk.

After watching several women consume copious amounts of calories, it was only fitting that I ended my night with a midnight meal. I decided to feast at I-Cafe, a tiny Turkish restaurant right under the Irving Park Brown Line stop. Given the name and the one public-use desktop, I thought I had stumbled into an Internet café, a relic of the previous decade that happened to be open through the wee hours of the morning. The menu includes an “open-face calzone” (which I’m pretty sure just means pizza) and lahmacun, which is a dank “thin-crust pizza topped with spiced minced beef, lamb, onion, and red peppers.” It’s probably the best all-meat pizza you can get for $3 at 1 a.m., so good on I-Cafe for getting that game on lock.

If you’re into "dinner theater," drinking $4 cocktails, and late-night meat pizzas, you should definitely hit up wherever I was.