Box Set | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Box Set 

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Box Set, WNEP Theater. Two solo shows of short comic sketches by ImprovOlympic veterans have been packaged together here, though it's not clear why: they have very different themes, and while one is sterling enough to stand on its own, the other needs rethinking.

Something Suite, written and performed by Dina Facklis and directed by Paul Grondy, is exceptional. Facklis takes pleasure in the incongruities of human nature, especially those brought out by extreme situations: a housewife prepares dinner while responding to accusations that she tried to commit suicide; a sweet-voiced recording artist lays down tracks for a song about bestiality; a doctor explains that she didn't tell her pregnant patient about possibly fatal complications because she wanted to ramp up the drama of the birth. Facklis's characters are tears-in-the-eyes funny not because of what they say but because of who they are under pressure.

Rebecca Sage Allen's contribution, A Little Tart, is less successful. As directed by Stuart Ranson and Ali Davis it includes long, unnecessary costume changes, and Allen's sketches about love, sex, and marriage are sensationalized by inappropriate behavior: a man has sex with a pinata, a teacher tries to justify her affair with a 13-year-old student. Allen easily transforms herself from type to type, but her sketches all cover the same territory: love sucks. Worse, she ends most of them with gags so tepid they might as well be accompanied by rim shots.

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