“We all go a little mad sometimes”--even more so in our current political moment. This idea serves as the driving force behind Second City’s 108th mainstage revue, Do You Believe in Madness?, a politically-charged 120 minutes exploring lunacy both in and out of the White House. With a timely concept and a talented cast, the show should be a home-run, but its sketches are plagued with underdeveloped ideas. A joke is only as good as its punchline, and the knockout rarely happens here.
Take, for instance, a sketch about the Democratic debates. It starts with Joe Biden (portrayed by Adam Schreck) invoking Barack Obama’s name in every answer, and ends...in that same spot. The sketch never moves past its initial idea, one that Twitter has already covered.
And much like the reappearance of the crow mask glimpsed in the opening, this pattern of an intriguing concept coupled with a lackluster ending acts as a maddening motif throughout the show. A sketch about two women bonding over Lizzo lyrics in a dressing room ends abruptly with a much-too-heavy handed twist. Act two’s opening scene hilariously uses sexually and politically conscious six-year-olds to comment on the social awareness of future generations, before petering out into a forgettable finale.
The material just doesn’t do justice to its incredible new ensemble. The women in particular are a dynamic trio--Sarah Dell-Amico is reminiscent of Gilda Radner, with vocal changes and facial expressions that instantly generate laughs, while Asia Martin and Mary Catherine Curran each bring down the house with their respective songs.
Hopefully next time we see these performers, their material will dig deeper into the political issues threatening our sanity - something so perfectly presented in The Second City e.t.c.'s currently running Grinning from Fear to Fear. The lunacy here is simply that this cast and concept failed to create something more memorable. (Emily Schmidt)
Somewhat Recommended ★★
Do You Believe in Madness? is now playing at The Second City. Info here.
The Hawk Chicago is included in TheatreInChicago's Review Round-Up.
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