Being at Choice, Rapid Fire, and Utterly, Completely Bored Out of My Friggin' Mind | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Being at Choice, Rapid Fire, and Utterly, Completely Bored Out of My Friggin' Mind 

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Being at choice, rapid fire, and utterly, completely bored out of my friggin' mind, Factory Theater. This com-pany's Ernie Banks-on-speed approach to comedy ("Hey, let's play three today!") seems predicated on the notion that if you throw enough material at the wall, something's bound to stick. The productivity's impressive, but the quality suffers.

Jill Rothamer in her one-woman show Utterly, Completely Bored out of My Friggin' Mind plays seven familiar bored characters: pushy Little League mom, whiny child, hyperperky aerobics instructor, chain-smoking Christmas elf, guilt-ridden churchgoer, Halloween-crazed numbers cruncher, and grief-stricken victim of a failed relationship. But despite many pointed moments of humor, pathos, and honesty, the show's brevity and often mundane observations prevent it from crossing the border from diverting to compelling. Likewise Molly Brennan's crazed and frequently shrill 30-minute gals'-day-out sketch Rapid Fire contains flashes of wit and effective slapstick, particularly Brooke Dillman's performance as one of a trio of beer-swilling women who take a pair of prissy Lincoln Park joggers prisoner for a day of fun. But the show stalls when Brennan sacrifices character and plot development to easy satire and tiresome, sophomoric gags.

Even Michael Meredith's witty encounter-group parody Being at Choice, which I described in these pages last May as one of the funniest comedies I'd seen in ages, is showing the deleterious effects of Factory's high output. Cast replacements, sluggish pacing, and flat performances have robbed this still-amusing satire of much of its original energy and hilarity. Like the other two shows, it now has a slapdash quality because it's designed only to amuse Factory ensemble members rather than outside theatergoers. Tellingly, though ensemble members and their loved ones made up about 50 percent of the audience on the evenings I attended, they provided 90 percent of the laughs.

--Adam Langer

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