Wit's End | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Wit's End 

WITS' END, at Excalibur. With its rock 'n' roll stage and three stories of cabaret-style seating, the Dome Room would seem an unlikely place for a sketch-comedy show. But the acoustics are surprisingly good--very little bleeds through from the rest of the club--and with the right material and production values and performers who are funny, quick, and club-kid glamorous, a show at Excalibur might really take off.

Wits' End is not that show. The material, written by God knows who (there's no writing credit), is mostly subsophomoric. In one repeating sketch, a gang of kindergarten-level mobsters is led by a kid who speaks like Brando's Don Corleone. In another done-to-death bit, a pair of hockey players turn out to be closet poets, a revelation that might be worth a 30-second blackout but in this show is milked for three scenes.

The improvised bits go a little better, though improv games are never the treat for the audience improv groups think they are. Some performers show promise--notably the sultry, wacky Kati Semelsburger--though they do make rather elementary errors, including that last resort of improvisers, the sudden killing of everyone else in the scene. It's cruel to fellow performers, who don't deserve to die, and to the audience, which by this point in such a show only wants to be put out of its misery.

--Jack Helbig

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