Laura McKenzie Feels Like Makin' Love | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Laura McKenzie Feels Like Makin' Love 

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Laura McKenzie Feels Like Makin' Love, Nicelings Productions, at Live Bait Theater. Even if you're not the Lily Tomlin-Tracey Ullman junkie that I am, Laura McKenzie's solo multipersonality revue will entertain. Hip and electric, McKenzie bounces across a set neatly compartmentalized into a pulpit, a gloomy bedroom, and a red lounge with beaded curtains. Like a TV whose channels are being flipped by an unseen remote, she zips with wicked precision through a host of unnamed characters, among them a chain-smoking mega-fertile New Yorker; a depression victim dialoguing with talk-show hosts and a chipmunk puppet; an evangelistic minister; and a "how to get a man onto the dance floor and into your life" instructor.

McKenzie has the rare gift of inhabiting a character with her entire body, and as a result can hold an audience's attention even when her writing begins to drift. For an early solo effort, it's enough to give her characters intelligently funny anecdotes and deliver them in authentic voices. But to really master the form, McKenzie the writer needs to take them further. And billing the show as "part rap, part rock opera" makes it sound more musical than it actually is. However, director Laura Kepley infuses the spoken parts with distinct and varied rhythms that create a strong percussive feel--a snappy beat you can dance to--creating an effective conduit for McKenzie's considerable energy.


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