20 | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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20, Bailiwick Repertory. Director Stephen Rader wanted to explore the diversity--and similarity--of gay men in Chicago, so he polled them about their experiences. The result is 20 (a title taken from the game 20 Questions), a sometimes entertaining and funny, sometimes frustrating and shallow documentary-style show that uses the respondents' own words to illuminate absolutely nothing.

Part of the trouble is the banality of the questions. Men were asked such things as "Are you a typical gay man?," "How many people have you slept with?," "What is the best sex you've ever had?," and "What is your ultimate fantasy?" Five actors (Darren Goad, Bil Ingraham, Michael Pacas, Jason Palmer, and Langstan Smith) identify the respondents by first name, then read their answers, none of which is unexpected. For example, responses to the "typical gay man" question include "yes," "no," and "I don't know what 'typical' means," among others.

The most unfortunate part is that, though those polled included men of various ethnicities, the actors are all white and seem to use different miens and voices only when portraying minorities. Otherwise the respondents, even those who come up over and over again, are not developed at all. Eventually the show becomes a laundry list of uninteresting opinions from people we don't care about. Rader keeps the action moving swiftly, but even so this 90-minute production feels about an hour too long.

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