Red, Black, & Boo | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Red, Black, & Boo 

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Red, Black, & Boo, Boonards Arts Group, at Stage Left Theatre. A racist woman so blind to racial differences that she refuses to see that her fiance and closest friends are members of the ethnic groups she purports to hate. An employee at the Centers for Disease Control who doesn't mind lethal germs but fears the evil gnomes who spread them. A schoolboy named Grigory Rasputin whose injuries at the hands of playground bullies foreshadow his bizarre death. These are not your standard sketch-comedy characters. Nor did Viola Spolin likely anticipate an exercise in which three players take turns immersing their heads in a tank of water--that's right--while two others improvise an extended scene based on an audience suggestion.

The Boonards Arts Group's slogan is "dumb humor for smart people"--a goal that makes for an astonishingly cliche-free evening. All graduates of the University of Chicago, the Boonards are well versed in a variety of subjects. And their knowledge is sufficiently at hand for them to actually respond to the audience's suggestions--as opposed to using them as pretexts for facile laughs--and deftly resist any efforts to push the material into familiar raunchiness.

I saw the Red portion of the repertory, which is about revolutions. And if the Black segment (about evil) is just as good, we should welcome the arrival of some fresh new talent.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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