The Reckoning: baseball, spirit animals, and the farmer's daughter

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5973/1243194925-reckoning__1__screen_resized.jpgI didn't leave Theatre 99 with stomach ache last night. I usually do. But the act we saw was part comedy, part drama, and part spiritual journey. There wasn't much room for belly laughs. The Reckoning are a long-form improv group from Chicago. Group members are masters of taking a train of thought and weaving into it all the accouterments of storytelling — characterization, conflict, a journey, structural repetition, internal transformation, and external resolution. Last night, they began with this suggestion: "high school graduation." This led to scenes involving a landscaper schtupping a rich widow for a $300 tip, a Tom Selleck-like (from back in the day) farm hand wooing and eventually impregnating the farmer's daughter, the farmer's wife getting all hot and bothered by the Tom Selleck-like farm hand, inspiring the farmer to step up as a husband, and a small-town kid, animated by his so-called spirit animal (a bear), following his dream of being a big league pitcher. These were funny moments matched by moments of tenderness that I had no idea were coming. I hadn't seen The Reckoning before. Now that I have I know that even though my belly didn't ache by the end of the set, my heart did just a little bit. -JS

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