Brick and Six Degrees | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Brick and Six Degrees 

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Brick and Six Degrees, at ComedySportz. Right before taking my seat at Brick's show I realized I'd lost my wallet. Yet the five-person ensemble was so funny I happily forgot this minor crisis for an hour. Directed by Kevin Rich, Brick revisits familiar comic territory but does so dynamically. Two women in a powder room discuss astrophysics with adolescent giddiness, and office workers talk blandly about Chicago's two seasons (winter and construction, of course) with the peppy Stan (Tim Mason)--who is in fact Satan.

The ensemble also wittily takes on politics in a scene depicting a contemporary native land-rights contest and in a musical number applauding the diversity of shades of white. A highlight is Louis Farrakhan (Cayne Collier) pointing out the racist subtext of a naive suburbanite (Marion Austin Oberle) explaining her prizewinning recipes on "Farrakhan Can Cook." These performers are entertaining even when silent, splitting the stage for tableaux depicting a happy family around the hearth (Megan Kellie and Susan Salvi) while dad survives a plane crash and fights to get back home. Fast paced and funny, Brick relies on intelligent humor, too often absent from late-night fare.

Six Degrees is substantially less polished. Seven actors set out to establish the connections between people and the ripple effect one person's actions can have even on strangers. After a brief warm-up of scenes prompted by the audience suggestion of "milestone," director Randy Smock announced the audience would now see "George's story." Fortunately Brendan Dowling's character, a slow child abused by his mother (who prefers the term "special"), was well developed. The idea then is to bring characters from the warm-up scenes into George's story and later into "Britney's story," from the perspective of the abusive mother (Kay Cannon). Unfortunately Six Degrees does little new with the improvisational form, merely offering an hour of amusing characterizations.

--Jenn Goddu

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