Pop Psychology | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Pop Psychology 

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Pop Psychology, at Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret. Picture Paul Simon channeling Dr. Phil and you get the gist of Tony Rogers's self-help sing-along. Donning a red vest and playing acoustic guitar, Rogers (of acclaimed Chicago pop group the Good) leads the audience through role-playing exercises and "repeat after me" affirmations. The original score is reminiscent of the melodious, twisted tunes of They Might Be Giants, only sweeter. Don't know that band? Then a bit of the Gen-X-centric humor might be lost on you. If, however, you have at least a passing familiarity with Journey, Queen, and the whole Mars/Venus thing, you should be OK.

Rather than rely on scripted observations about life and love, Rogers draws his material from questionnaires the audience completes before the show. While this allows him to cut to the chase with volunteers--no need for the "where you from?" banter--on opening night at least it didn't help him move beyond relationship cliches. Like many parodies of our quest for love and self-knowledge, this one falls short of the sincere examination that produces gut-busting laughs of recognition. Still, the jokes are giggleworthy, and Rogers's warm, easy pop style makes it hard not to smile and sing along. The opening-night crowd was more than willing to partake--"full-assed," a frequent Dr. Tonyism. If audience participation makes you shy, Davenport's two-drink minimum might be a source of courage.

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