Harvey Finklestein's Sock Puppet Showgirls | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Harvey Finklestein's Sock Puppet Showgirls 

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It's amazing how a healthy dose of irony can alter our perspective. The film that was greeted as a quasi-pornographic turd upon its release is now held up as quintessential gay camp, a worthy successor to the Roger Vadim-Russ Meyer school of cult filmmaking. Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven's 1995 "expose" of the Las Vegas skin trade, is itself exposed in this potty-mouthed puppet version. After touring Chicago's off-Loop spaces in 2002 and 2003, the show has been remounted in a run at Theatre Building Chicago to celebrate its upcoming appearance at the New York International Fringe Festival. Some of the original production's intimacy and ramshackle energy have been lost in this revised and expanded version, though Sock Puppet Showgirls remains as obnoxious and profane as ever in its satire. At times the troupe's below-the-belt approach almost goes too far: a bloody recapitulation of the film's rape sequence is played for nervous laughs, and surprise cameos by childhood icons might elicit cease and desist orders from the estates of Shari Lewis and Jim Henson. However, viewers are forewarned in the show's introduction: "If mouth-to-ass penetration bothers you," barks the vomit-hued puppet Harvey Finklestein, "then you're in the wrong town." Theatre Building Chicago, 1225 W. Belmont, 773-327-5252. Through July 31: Fridays-Saturdays, 10:30 PM. $10.

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