Congratulations for Not Killing Anyone | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Congratulations for Not Killing Anyone 

CONGRATULATIONS FOR NOT KILLING ANYONE, Studio 108, at Angel Island. A genuine sense of humor lurks somewhere behind Matt O'Neill's self-indulgent shoutfest. Every so often a truly funny line or inspired concept emerges from the shrill, unfocused proceedings, which have something to do with infighting among high-strung research scientists. One wonders what O'Neill and Studio 108 could have accomplished if they'd aimed for some coherence. But as it stands, O'Neill's Kafka-by-way-of-Wile-E.-Coyote rant is merely a shapeless blob of insanity, as unwieldy as its title, sacrificing what little plot and character it has to mindless slapstick and infernal screeching.

Director Nick Digilio--who writes, "I didn't quite know what to make of this play the first time I read it"--masks what flaws he can by directing the actors to be even louder and more intense than the Foo Fighters tune that opens and closes the show. They hurtle over the stage, shouting and pointing, chasing one another with staple guns and smacking one another with telephones with such frenzy that they seem engaged in a hopped-up game of scissors, paper, rock. Indeed, the actors are so committed--particularly the always excellent Steve Walker, who gives the show its only moments of understatement--that one might be persuaded there's more here than meets the ear. But if there's a dramatic purpose other than creating audition tapes for Saturday Night Live, it's buried in the din.

--Adam Langer

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