That Darned Anti-Christ | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

That Darned Anti-Christ 

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THAT DARNED ANTI-CHRIST, Annoyance Theatre. The best Annoyance shows twist together two contradictory attitudes about life: (1) that life is awful, people are perverse, and nothing turns out right, and (2) that life isn't that bad, people are pretty good, and even if nothing turns out right you might as well smile and hope for the best. This is especially true of shows created during Annoyance's golden age, 1990 to '92, including the 1990 That Darned Anti-Christ.

Like Co-ed Prison Sluts, created only a year or so earlier, That Darned Anti-Christ shows several hopelessly naive adolescents--in this case, the emotionally damaged offspring of a neurotic, promiscuous dowager--struggling in a dark, threatening world not of their making. The resulting hilarious mess resembles nothing so much as an after-school special gone wrong, an effect accentuated by Faith Soloway's bright, bouncy tunes.

This revival lacks some of the anarchic energy of the original production, and few of the actors can match the comic brilliance of the brightest ones in the first production, Tom Booker and Susan Messing, even though several of them are reprising roles they played nine years ago, notably Ellen Stoneking and Mark Sutton. Still, the current cast hold their own, and the script is strong enough that even when the show doesn't soar it still entertains. --Jack Helbig

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