Shake Shake Shake, Shake Shake Shake, Shake Your Ass | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Shake Shake Shake, Shake Shake Shake, Shake Your Ass 

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Shake Shake Shake, Shake Shake Shake, Shake Your Ass, Annoyance Theatre.

I once ran into the middle of the street and shouted, "Thank God! The 70s are over!" Of course I'd had just a wee bit too much champagne--and beer and scotch. And it was New Year's Eve.

Now, 15 years later, the 70s don't look so bad. Sure, the clothes were weird and the hairstyles were for shit and Carter was more disappointing than Clinton, but we were all so young and thin and in love. Could it be that it was all so simple then? Fortunately there are sharp-tongued satires like Annoyance Theatre's Shake Shake Shake to remind us that time has "rewritten every line." Set in and around a New Jersey disco in the mid-70s, it essentially parodies Saturday Night Fever, with Mike Monterastelli in the John Travolta role, Madeline Long as his frumpy longtime girlfriend, and Nancy Giangrasse as the hot stuff who comes into the club one day looking for a disco partner and steals Danny Sharketti's heart.

Like a lot of Annoyance productions, this one lacks polish, and even focus at times. Some scenes are a little long, and the gross jokes wear thin. But unlike a lot of Annoyance shows, this one (directed by Esta-Joy Peters) tells a coherent, sometimes quite moving story with a beginning, middle, and end. And this makes all the difference: suddenly the company's trademark strong characters (portrayed by the likes of Monterastelli, Eric Hoffman, and the ever-brilliant Susan Messing) have something to do onstage besides crack jokes about hand jobs, blow jobs, and snorting blow. Though this show is one of Annoyance's longer efforts--the night I saw it, it ran almost two hours--it ends, unlike the 70s, way too soon.


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