Back-Alley Bards

Before T.S. Eliot, there was Don Marquis. Before Cats, there was archy and mehitabel. The character archy, as readers of the Depression-era New York Sun knew, was a vers libre bard reborn as a cockroach. His crony, mehitabel, the alley

cat, with the morals and street smarts that implies, was once Cleopatra, or so she claims, “expression is the need of my soul,”archy began his first communication—hurling himself head first against the keyboard to type each letter. In the fifties, his jazzy bulletins “from the under side came to Broadway as a musical, starring Eddie Bracken and the purring Eartha Kitt. Now, these great characters are due back, at the Center Theatre, Chicago (November 19 to December 27, 312-508-5422).