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Durang/Durang, Thirsty Theater, at Pilsen Theatre. Christopher Durang doesn't write plays anymore--instead he churns out inconsequential, self-congratulatory parodies designed to show off his vast knowledge of theater. With an obsessiveness bordering on monomania he exploits a style of humor he obviously feels comfortable with. But what's troubling is how little his works actually have to say about the theatrical medium in the end: he never delves beneath the surface of the playwrights he skewers, a lack that's especially evident in his latest collection of short plays.

In one of the one-acts in Durang/Durang, he reduces Tennessee Williams's characters to a collection of stuttering southern obsessive-compulsives; in another, he shovels Sam Shepard's works into a story about white-trash sociopaths. Allusions abound, but there's no joy in identifying them because of the way Durang telegraphs his jokes with an air of self-satisfaction. At least the parodies in Mad and Cracked don't insult the intelligence of their audience.

Director Marc Jablon's cast is excellent--Mandy Schneider, Alyson Lyon, and the rubber-faced Gary Sugarman in a variety of gender-bending roles are particularly fine. But like countless other young, talented ensembles they've wasted their time on Durang--a team of typewriter-trained monkeys could randomly assemble his next script.

--Nick Green

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