Profiles Theatre “The Cryptogram” Review – That First Time You Felt Your World Fall Apart


This is the quickest 70 minutes of theater to hit Chicago stages in memory.  Profile Theatre’s “The Cryptogram” feels like ten minutes at most. 



This is David Mamet’s somewhat autobiographical account of a moment in his boyhood when his predictable world first unraveled.



The boy whom we imagine to be the young Mamet, John, performed by Aaron Lamm with an amazing nuance you’d expect from a seasoned adult actor and not the middle schooler that he is, cannot sleep.  He wants to know why his father hasn’t returned home to take him on a much anticipated camping trip.  There are few answers, only clues. 



The adults around him—his mother (Abigail Boucher) and family friend Del (Darrel W. Cox) --- telegraph tension and fret while at the same time telling the boy he must rest.  



The more the adults talk the more they weave together the fabric of the story. Yet, with every turn of the tale’s loom they seem to leave another layer of mysterious frayed ends. 



Dense and rapid, the dialogue holds you firm to challenge your more adult mind to unravel the clues in the puzzle that is keeping John awake.



If you’ve ever had a moment when you felt the foundations of your world falling apart you will likely draw from that well of experience to digest this play.   If you have somehow had a magical life without such loss, consider this compact script and well-directed work (Director, Joe Jahraus) a superbly acted primer.


Through November 16 and not to be missed.


Profiles Theatre’s The Alley Stage

4147 North Broadway, Chicago


For tickets visit The Profiles Theatre website ( or call 773 549 1815.




Photos by Michael Brosilow

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