There's a lot to like about That Sordid Little Story, a "bluegrass musical" which concerns a southern boy convinced a band is singing the story of his life.
The boy himself, Billy a fluid, relatable Patrick Coakley is easy to cheer on. Another plus: the quirky onstage band who's music creates a sonic through-line as the story unfolds. Story's costumes, a clever blend of old south and Chicago hipster, also contribute, as does writer/director Andrew Hobgood's inspired use of a versatile space.
Its the pace that disappoints. A strung-together series of scenarios purportedly mixing modern American storytelling with Greek theatrical traditions, Billy's road adventures are each punishingly protracted, the tempo immediately thrown by the first piece in which Billy meets Abigail (Caitlin Chuckta) and Caleb (Wes Needham) an incestuous pair of siblings. Given the amount of time exhausted introducing the two, one assumes Caleb and Abigail will have ongoing relevance. However, as Billy trundles from bar to bar, always narrowly missing the band, it becomes apparent that each vignette is meant to stand alone. Given this objective, Hobgood would have been well-served to cut each scenario by half, shorten the interwoven songs, and present the show sans intermission.
Still, The New Colony, a young Chicago company aiming to actively cultivate a younger theater-going audience, attains at least that goal. Those in attendance seem hip and in the know, more likely spotted at a club or concert. So, while the show's unique concept isn't enough to carry it, the event certainly attracts a crowd.