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THEATER REVIEW The Winner ... of Our Discontent
by Mary Shen Barnidge
2017-01-04

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Playwright: Various individuals. At: Second City at Piper's Alley, 1616 N. Wells St. Tickets: $19-$46. Runs through: Open run

When the 105th Second City Revue opened a bare four weeks after the presidential election, there was no hiding its hasty response to what appeared a reversal of hitherto-unquestioned assumptions regarding the demographic their satire targeted. Audiences attending the performance on Dec. 27, however, were privileged to witness proof that nothing fuels the go-for-broke daring demanded of comedy like a challenge.

On that particular evening, the sketch initiated at approximately 9:30 was premised on three male neighbors chatting as they watered their respective lawns—one who views events of the day in terms of sex, another in terms of youthful memories and a third who greets every news item as an invitation to display his vast knowledge of the subject at hand. After a discussion of football to establish the formula, a spectator chose that same morning's report of Carrie Fisher's death.

Relying on material memorized only a few hours earlier, ensemble member Jamison Webb proceeded to deliver a eulogy for the late Hollywood celebrity, summarizing the minutiae of her life and career at breathtaking speed for perhaps five minutes.

This refusal to traffic in the cheap and reliable is also evidenced in Kelsey Kinney's dope-smoking granny being busted by her suburban sellout son ( "This is Lake Forest, Mom—not Lombard!" ). It is evidenced in Shantira Jackson's calling our attention to the difficulty of finding a non-Eurocentric face in the house, thereby intimating that this might be perceived as abnormal, and later, audaciously including in her "Black Heaven" monologue a joke almost certain to be lost on the melanin-challenged, involving the celestial choir's percussive dexterity. Most significantly, it is evidenced in the warning issued to potential hecklers that gratuitous vilification will not be tolerated.

It's not all in-yer-face defiance, though: A neglected Cubs batboy rewarded for his gallantry toward a lady in distress and a self-effacing teenager comforted by a clairvoyant's assurance that patience requires courage both display sensitive insight to compensate for a few hoary har-hars that could have been recycled from the first Second City revue.

Hey: It's 2017, and we are adult enough to appreciate the timeliness of a couple naming their child "corduroy" ( "Doo-ray"for short, not "Corrie" ) and not flinch at the language of candid social appraisal. Bring it on!


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