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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Theater Doors Open on the Right
by Rick Reed
2004-01-21

This article shared 3149 times since Wed Jan 21, 2004
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Created by: Ensemble

At: Second City, 1616 N. Wells

Phone: ( 312 ) 337-3992; $17-$19

Open run

Just the title of Second City's 90th mainstage revue is enough to envelop us in the lunacy of Chicago, and by extension, our world. If you've ever ridden on the CTA, you know how wonderful that mechanized voice is that jabbers on and on, giving you far more information that you need. For example, whether doors open on the right or left at each stop. Thank God for that one: otherwise, most of us would be standing at the wrong doors, waiting for them to open, while the doors open and close behind us, causing us to miss our stops.

This is the kind of bureaucratic nonsense Second City has made a career out of ridiculing. That, and irreverence for almost everything and everyone.

At a Second City show, no one is beneath contempt. Doors Open on the Right is no exception, with Blacks, gays, people from Moline, women, gym bunnies, the CTA, George W. Bush, terrorists, elementary school children and more coming under their razor-sharp comic eye.

This revue, ably directed by Joshua Funk, is a fast-paced, funny, and refreshing take on government, relationships, morals, and more; there are no sacred cows here. Blackouts, songs, and full-length skits draw us in as they ridicule the state of contemporary society. A running gag throughout the show is the appearance of Steve Bartman, the ill-fated, head-phones and baseball-cap wearing dweeb who may have ruined the Cubs bid for the World Series with a too-greedy grab for a fly ball. Bartman appears to intercept and ruin numerous non-baseball moments, including the rescue of an infant from a burning building when his mother attempts to drop the babe into the arms of a waiting fireman. Also under the line of fire are the upcoming presidential elections, with George W. a predictable, yet funny target. But others, such as Al Sharpton, also take their share of comic abuse ( Antoine McKay rises above the tacky wig and fake moustache to deliver an inspired impersonation ) .

Liz Cackowski, a new face on the main stage, is a delight, especially when she does a loony take on an alcoholic, rich woman being visited by an IRS worker. Cackowski is the standout of the show; she has the kind of goofy brilliance and comic timing to inspire laughs by doing little more than grinning.

Highpoints of the show include a row of parents at their kids' holiday pageant. Two single dads, one of whom is widowed ( 'My wife was bitten by a homeless man. We had to put her down.' ) , and the other a bitter ex of an alcoholic. The emergence of 'two mommies' offers a chance to riff on same-sex couplings and poke comic fun at the straight people surrounding them. A marriage counselor ( Lisa Brooke ) heads up a session in which she is unabashedly, and hilariously, on the side of the wife ( Jean Villepique ) . A grade school class inspires the ire of a visiting marine with their too-on-target questions.

All in all, this revue stands out as a real crowd pleaser and the kind of polished work the company has become famous for. It's well worth seeing.


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