Parallel Lives: The Kathy and Mo Show | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Parallel Lives: The Kathy and Mo Show 

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Parallel Lives: The Kathy and Mo Show, Awaken Performances, at the Viaduct Theater. This 1986 off-Broadway show put writers Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney on the map, though Najimy--perhaps best known today as the voice of Peggy on Fox's King of the Hill--has shown decidedly more staying power than her collaborator.

The script apparently still exerts a pull on female performers: Euphemism Here Productions revived the show in 2002, and the Illinois Theatre Center in 1994. The performances in this production are sharp and assured, even though director Jenn Cox had to step in for Lisa Samra the night I attended. Bev Spangler brought a rubber face and a blissfully dim persona to several of the sketches, while Cox put her dance training to good use in a routine that sets a woman's morning ablutions to the frenetic pace of The Nutcracker's Russian dance.

But only so much polish can be applied to spiff up this heirloom piece. Its targets--self-indulgent "womyn's" performance art, good-hearted but clueless matrons, the gender differences defined by heavenly beings--all feel a little too 80s. Essentially Parallel Lives is a relic of a time when "feminist" and "funny" were considered mutually exclusive, so it was a novelty. And to be fair, the audience here seemed to adore it. But I was nagged by an overriding sense of deja vu.

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