Barrie Cole: Writer Performer Playwright
"a beautiful, polyphonous portrait of city life."
Dmitry Samarov- Reverse Gossip Chicago Reader
"90 delectable minutes of poetry and word play. If you love language and poetry, this will be 90 minutes of bliss." Reality Is An Activity Nancy Bishop, Third Coast Review
"Chicago monologist and playwright Barrie Cole has long been placing imaginary jars atop imaginary hills. Her ambiguously concrete work layers childlike simplicity over seasoned melancholy to produce piercing, wondrous images of charming, discomfiting transformation. You might mistake Cole’s work for the fables of a hyper-literate six-year-old who’s just discovered the reality of death." Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader
"Sometimes people are misguided or undiscerning enough to praise you for your way with words. Which - don't get me wrong - you totally, totally appreciate. But which also rings a little hollow when you know that such a person as Barrie Cole exists in the world, and has this wizardly, alchemical capacity to break language into its constituent parts and wring its juices into a bucket of her own devising and to stir the contents of that bucket with a vigor and intensity that you feel like might leave your poor brain in a smoking husk were you to attempt it. Then she pours that resulting concoction into your ears with that voice that hovers in the air between you like a jet trail, and the reconstituted language burrows into your brain and nests there. And you maybe forget about it for a while, but then its chrysalis splits and it flies around inside your brain, and even though you know you can't work the kind of magic that she does, you look with new eyes at the words before you, and you by God try."
Ian Belknap Founder/ Producer of Write Club
"Another unmitigated triumph of perversity is Barrie Cole's Elevator Tours. Its premise is the stuff of pure, mainstream rom-com: fresh from a traumatic divorce, Will camps out in the apartment of his lonely platonic friend Ruth. Naturally, we expect them to hem and haw and fall into each other's arms. But Cole mounts a powerful attack on our expectations. Her script becomes a kind of microtragedy, about two people using every ounce of their intelligence, creativity, goofy comic sensibilities, and vast immaturity to defeat whatever seems to make most sense. It helps greatly that Will is played by Colm O'Reilly (a son of Beau), who's very good at manifesting a sort of dynamic unassertiveness. And Carolyn Hoerdemann is fun to watch as Ruth—not to say refreshing, inasmuch as this is one time she didn't get cast as a prostitute."
Tony Adler Chicago Reader Elevator Tours
What an unfortunate fate, to miss Tom Wolferman describe, heartbreakingly and hilariously, giving a bath to his Alzheimer's-stricken mother, and to not hear Barrie Cole explain, gut-splittingly, the ways in which a one night stand is nothing like a nightstand." Alexia Elejade Ruiz Chicago Tribune "Projects" at Story Sessions
""Playwright Barrie Cole creates an examination of abstract personal conceptualizations that is casual, frantic, contemporary, absurd, accessible, sincere and ridiculous. In the seemingly silly conversations of a darling yet detached couple, Cole uncovers extraordinary analysis of art, art analysis, and the anti-analysis of artistic expression. Delightfully intellectual without being academic, Cole uncovers humor in places that few bother to look. The writing is self-aware, self-assured and self-aggrandizing; balancing in the perfect dose of silly so as not to take its serious revelations too seriously. Cole uncovers the idiosyncratic psychosis of human interaction at its most brilliantly funny and cleverly revealing by rendering absurd analogies that are dead on."
Venus Zarris Chicago Stage Review "Fruit Tree Backpack"
"Fruit Tree Backpack""Barrie Cole's trio of short one-acts are written in a faux-naif style that should be cloying, but her script is a terribly smart and engrossing depiction of a highly verbose young couple negotiating the boundaries of their relationship. The effect is something like a brief indie film about a difficult woman and her doofy boyfriend scripted by Diablo Cody and Dave Eggers."Nina MetzChicago Tribune"Fruit Tree Backpack""She believes public beaches are the earth's genitalia, considers her writing "an investigation of punctuation," and wraps an orange in packing tape to "see what it means." He's exhausted by her fanciful impenetrability even as he secretly devises his own "mansion of love" with "dancing on Thursdays, crying on other days." In lesser hands, it could be Sarah Ruhl-esque tripe. But Chicago playwright Barrie Cole uses her hyperliterate quirkiness with disarming seriousness, to investigate the burdens of intimacy. Director Eric Ziegenhagen employs the lightest of touches, encouraging Marisa Wegrzyn and Brad Smith to do almost nothing except attend to the subtlest emotional nuances in Cole's unconventional dialogue. They're so in tune with the material and each other that these 45 minutes approach the epic."
Justin Hayford Chicago Reader "Fruit Tree Backpack"
"Cole has chosen a well-balanced selection of humorous sketches for this concert reading. A marriage threatens to flounder on the husband’s obsession with haiku (“Look at these dishes/I need to wash them right now/Then they will be clean”); a reader encounters an unimaginably captivating book; three roommates speculate with amusement and anxiety on the packages accumulating in their upstairs neighbor’s apartment. Like her spiritual compatriot David Sedaris, she could be accused of wrapping her funny packages with too tight a bow; their will to quirkiness doesn’t always allow room for true heartbreak or revelation. The pieces display Cole’s eye for detail and her rhythmic gifts, and she performs them with a winning verve.
John Beer Time Out"Word Bath"
"With this new collection of monologues, Chicago's champion of lyrical oddness, Barrie Cole, takes a satisfying leap into accessibility without sacrificing her unique imaginative flair. The five pieces that make up this 65-minute evening mostly tell first-person stories with clear, familiar structures and a resonant whimsy. In "Stuff," an enormously overweight upstairs neighbor buys so much junk from various catalogs that the ceiling begins to cave in. The narrator of another tale spends 15 minutes extolling the virtues of a book she loves so much "it's become almost a pet." As a performer, Cole combines a childlike candor with a captivating, P.J. Harveyesque gift for vocal abandon. This is a rich, fulfilling evening."
Justin Hayford Chicago Reader "Word Bath"
At her best, solo performer-turned-playwright Barrie Cole charms with her childlike, word-drunk poetic language, then delivers heartfelt revelations about life and mortality."