At Second City
Written and performed by the cast
Directed by Ryan Bernier
In the same room, but thinking of leaving
The audience was carried away — laughed uproariously, clapped hands, stomped feet, and rose to give a standing ovation. However, all appeared to be 40 to 60 years younger than this reviewer. What does it all mean? Possibly that at age 77, I might be too old for Second City. Certainly, I did not get what I expected: an evening of politically pointed satire based on the current world scene. Instead, it was an uneven show with moments where a talented cast labored with insignificant, occasionally puerile material.
Second City opens its 36th revue with a great cast — Aidy Bryant, Mike Kosinski, Michael Lehrer, Tawney Newsome, Andel Sudik and Chris Witaske carrying on the tradition of three men, three women and four chairs. This cheerful, bouncing group easily transcends their material. Faces (and most especially Bryant’s) are vividly expressive; angular bodies contort to reinforce messages. The company is best in the improv moments when they seek input from the audience. They can be delicious in scenes that replicate a father/daughter dance, a high-school reunion, an interview for the prestigious University of Chicago lab school, or the rivalry between contesting City of Chicago council members. There are some super zingers: “”You dressed as sexy Michele Obama and you know I was an obese child!”
High points include a positive spin on being a very small man, a hilarious band composed of a singer and her four x-husbands, and the exchange of Dear John letters from a couple which tries — unsuccessfully — to remain friends. They take time to develop a skit where newscasters attempting to deliver solid information are continually interrupted by trivial side issues, but the same might be said for the whole evening. Lots of side dishes — appetizers and desserts — but missing a main course.
The opening and the closing song recap the message that Second City has not changed. I think it has — or if it truly hasn’t, then I have, just by aging. At 22 or so, I might also have loved this show.
Beverly Friend, Ph.D.
Second City, 1608 N. Wells in Piper’s Alley, 312-337-3992, www.secondcity.com. Tickets $23-28. 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 p.m. Saturdays, 3 and 7 p.m. Sundays, open run. Run time two hours and 15 minutes (including a 15-minute intermission), an open run.