Six Women With Brain Death, or Expiring Minds Want to Know | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Six Women With Brain Death, or Expiring Minds Want to Know 

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SIX WOMEN WITH BRAIN DEATH, OR EXPIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW. John J. Condne III Productions, at the Synergy Center. In the semisatirical spirit of life-style musical revues like A Girl's Guide to Chaos, Personals, and A . . . My Name Is Alice, Six Women with Brain Death, or Expiring Minds Want to Know offers breezy advice on how to stay sane amid the absurdities of a collapsing culture.

Though its mockery is generic and scattershot, Six Women With Brain Death seems mostly to lament the information overload caused by tabloid trivializing of modern life. Peppy and pointed, Mark Houston's songs ridicule a society in danger of being entertained to death. Among his targets are soap opera addicts who try to rent a life, treacherous Barbie doll fantasies, Disney's defanged re-creations of nature, God as our favorite extraterrestrial, and the prom queen as a false idol. At its most subversive, the revue uses forced conjunctions to reveal familiar foibles. "Get Proud of Me," a feel-good country ballad, is sung by the severed head of an ex-prom queen and her keeper. A bubbly, apple-cheeked mother reviles her "terrorist" kids. A high school reunion dissolves into a grudge match.

For all its satire, the show is short on solutions; it's mostly a lightning rod for audience gripes. But clearly there's an audience for musical kvetching: Six Women With Brain Death was a 1987 hit at Kansas City's Unicorn Theatre and a hit this spring at Synergy Center, where it's now been remounted with four members of the original cast. Dressed in bright smocks and black leotards, the deft sextet sell their show hard, tearing into Amy Heard's aerobicized choreography. Letting the actresses blend in or stand out to advantage, Beth Lynch's staging industriously pumps up the protest; the revue seems far more urgent than its material.

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