SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO, Blue Collar Theatre Company, at the Organic Lab Theater. David Mamet's dark comedy, about a young couple whose relationship is undone by their suspicion-sowing "best friends," certainly addresses timeless issues: the misunderstandings that can complicate sexual relationships and the way some people wreck others' happiness in the name of saving it. But Mamet's 1974 play places these universals in a specific context--the Lincoln Park/Gold Coast singles scene of the 70s--and the Blue Collar Theatre Company's inconsistent updating is generally unconvincing: references to the long-dormant ERA seem almost as strange as the omission of any reference to AIDS.
But what really keeps director David Billotti's staging from being as hilarious and poignant as it should be is the young actors' tendency to underplay (and sometimes mumble) their dialogue in an attempt to be intimate and "real," thus missing the text's sharply stylized rhythms. Sexual Perversity takes the form of a Second City revue whose sketches create a bittersweet story of lust and loss, but this production provides no cumulative comic momentum, muting not only the outrageous humor but the audience's dramatic involvement in whether the lovers will overcome the odds against them.
Blue Collar notes in a press release that Sexual Perversity "hasn't seen a major Chicago production" since About Last Night..., the 1986 Rob Lowe-Demi Moore film version of the play. Unfortunately, this effort does nothing to change that fact.