The Other Half Lives | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Other Half Lives 

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The Other Half Theatre Company, at Cafe Voltaire.

Precious little connects the six vignettes comprising The Other Half Lives, a "new variety show" at Cafe Voltaire--though all seem unfinished and all wallow in unearned twentysomething angst.

With the exception of Bob Laine, who delivers a rather generic monologue on his dysfunctional family, "Inventions," the authors/actors here demonstrate little knowledge of how to structure a plot, develop characters, or make a statement without yelling. The shots Tracy Komarmy takes at stereotypical corporate drones in "Oh Miss" are obvious. Jeff Seasholtz (whose clever ode to PBS was one of the few bright spots in Every Speck of Dust..., produced by Warm Body Ensemble a few years back) has grown bilious and strident. His monologue "Nerds," which asserts that dorks will have their revenge on corporate jocks, is mired in a high school mentality. His song "Child Star," which satirizes fallen 70s kid actors, reeks of schadenfreude. And his initially clever "Pop Manifesto," which chronicles human development through a series of ad jingles and slogans, collapses into a meaningless jumble of unfocused noise and messy staging.

Kevin King's short play "The God Complex," the evening's most ambitious selection, portrays God as a hapless corporate grunt vainly trying to please upper management. Littered with self-conscious touches and jokes that recall exchanges between George Burns and John Denver, it's more rant than drama. Like the rest of this 50-minute evening, it's too sketchy to hold interest, meriting little more than polite applause and a shrug.

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