Bootlicking Toady Productions and Harris & Harris; El Salat Dubioso and 4 Letter Productions | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Bootlicking Toady Productions and Harris & Harris; El Salat Dubioso and 4 Letter Productions 

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Bootlicking Toady productions and Harris & Harris, at the Theatre Building, and El Salat Dubioso and 4 Letter Productions, at the Theatre Building. During Chicago's first "Sketch Fest," certain shows are reserved for new companies, which have few other venues to try out material. The four companies on Sunday (divided into two bills) get an hour each to perform, which stretches their capabilities beyond their limits. The sketches are energetic but lack focus and depth--there are lots of jokes about toilet use, sexual capability, and first dates--and tend to end long after they stop being funny.

Of the four, the most promising group is Harris & Harris. Their six writers (Jamie Aitchison, Richard Berry, David Libera, Mike O'Mary, Matt Rorem, and Jason VonGerichten) and five actors (Laura Baron, Brooke Becker, Mike Enriquez, Ryan Gowland, and Seth Thomas) manage to produce quirky, unexpectedly sweet if uneven humor. At their best, they imagine in dead-on parodies what porn would be like if written by Sam Shepard or David Mamet; at their worst, they make light of prison rape and throw around gay slurs.

The other three groups have occasional bright spots (4 Letter Productions smartly portrays the misunderstandings between men and women). But they're outweighed by clanking moments, including a song about ham accompanied by an actress dressed like a tap-dancing pig (Bootlicking Toady) and an incomprehensible monologue that's supposedly a conversation between a man and his soul (El Salat Dubioso).

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