Sybilization | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Sybilization 

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Sybilization, at the Playground. Why would you turn an intermediate-level improv class into a full-length show and charge admission? True, the seats will probably be filled by the performers' friends, family, and coworkers, but I'm not sure who else would want to see this evening of labored comedy.

A variation on the Harold, the Sybil is a solo improvisation method created by performer Andy Eninger, and it's no surprise that he excels at it. With his elfin face, wildly expressive grimaces, and excellent physical control, Eninger brings out the clown or devil in every character. On the night I attended, he wove together a hilarious riff on contemporary manners whose story involved a female athletic director, her sensitive son, and a cell-phone demon. It's thrilling to contemplate what this actor might do with material worthy of his gifts.

But this is billed as "a festival of solo performance" with an alternating cast of six "Sybils" and a weekly special guest, and Eninger's co-Sybils failed to ignite. Using the suggestions "ridiculous" and "giraffe," Tim Sniffen took us to the UN and the Australian outback but forgot to make us laugh. Becky Eldridge was energetic but humorless in her voyage to a fatal Junior League car accident via Vietnam (give her credit, though, for nicely covering up a flubbed line that resulted in an accidental racial slur). And Jimmy Carrane's lackluster monologue of ersatz Seinfeld observations was monotonous and completely out of place.

--Erik Piepenburg

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