Jack O'Shea: Trouble in Toyland | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Jack O'Shea: Trouble in Toyland 

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Jack O'Shea: Trouble in Toyland!, Hairy Calahan Productions, at the Cornservatory. Jack O'Shea may be the ultimate misanthropic asshole, a hard-drinking, womanizing gumshoe with a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas. The latest installment in writer-director James Cook's series opens with O'Shea leaning out his window nursing a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label and pumping bullets into a group of Christmas carolers--in fact most of the humor here comes from what a stupendous jerk O'Shea is, whether he's making children burst into tears as a department store Santa or leering at Telemundo with his hands down his pants.

The problem with Jack O'Shea: Trouble in Toyland! is that the scenes become progressively longer and less action oriented. Cook also sets the stakes so high--America's children are endangered by a malicious toy maker--that the blink-and-you'll-miss-it confrontation between O'Shea and a demonic toy is an awful letdown. The cast make the most of their one-note characters, and Cook has the stoic O'Shea down to a science, ripping through a flurry of one-liners about booze and boners without cracking a smile. What's missing is a disruption, any disruption, to O'Shea's pattern: lying facedown in an alcoholic stupor. That sort of takes the fun out of guessing what compromising situation he'll end up in next.


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