REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Big Lake Big City


By Keith Hufflookingglass theatre

Directed by David Schwimmer

At Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago

Huff’s darkly sick comedy gets bogged down with too many characters and too many styles

Keith Huff’s ambitious darkly sick comedy has elements of film noir, sick humor and presents as a film script with many short scenes.  The humor here is quite dark and, at times, tasteless such as a morgue worker using a head in plastic as a golf ball. Huff’s complicated script has too many characters in such situations that defy credulity.

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We meet two old-time Chicago detectives, Getz (Danny Goldring) and his wound-too-tight partner Bass Podaris (Phillip R. Smith) both use extreme methods to solve cases. Bass has troubles: his partner is a knucklehead, his boss is a hard-nose and his cases are being overturned and his bimbo wife is cheating on him; to make things worse, he’s chasing a prep who has a screwdriver stuck in his head! His world also has an assortment of shady folks: shady corners, a TV-personality doctor, and, of course, a femme fatale.

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The adventures here is filled with mind-numbing action with loads of  cliche-ridden dialogue,  parody that borders on camp , as well as tone shifts that move from one denominational characters to those we are suppose to care about. The situations involve murder, double-crosses, and double-identities. There even is a car chase between two small toy electronic cars!

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There is fast-paced action utilizing Lookingglass Theatre’s runway staging that forces audiences to stretch often.  One of the continuing jokes is the appearance of Stewart Perez (Eddie Martinez) with the screwdriver in his head. We see him trying to hide that with a Schriner’s fez hat.

Huff’s script gets weighted down with several subplots that eventually changes the tone of the play from raw film noir to parody to camp and back and forth between theses styles.  While Big Lake Big City sure has its moments and it does contain some humor and  some biting sarcasm, the over-complicated plot and the underdeveloped characters (other than Bass Podaris) gives audience few people to care about. Too many twists and improvable turns wears thin.  If Huff would settle on one style, trim the number of characters, and  reduce some of the sick humor, Big Lake Big City could emerge as a worthy piece. Phillip R. Smith leads a terrific cast all of whom work hard to make this script work.

Somewhat Recommended

Talk Theatre in Chicago

Date Reviewed: June 29, 2013

For more info checkout the Big Lake Big City page at

At Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan, Chicago, IL,  call 312-337-0665,,  tickets $28 – $38,  Tuesdays thur Sundays at 7:30 pm, matinees at 3pm on Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays, running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes with intermission, through August 11, 2013

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