A Huge Horrible Failure | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Huge Horrible Failure


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A Huge Horrible Failure, Annoyance Theatre. Director Gary Ruderman's description of this play as about "a guy who tried to do something and failed" is too simple. Created through improvisation, the piece offers a whole assortment of sorry characters--all but one portrayed by Matt Dwyer and Dick Costolo--who present a collective image of failure that goes far beyond one man.

The aforementioned guy is a psychiatrist: sick of listening to his patients' dreams and complaints, he shoots one of them. Then his wife leaves him, taking everything. His response is to surround himself with books, the only things on which he believes he can depend. His own psychiatrist advises him to build a tree fort instead. As this thin story progresses, Dwyer and Costolo take on different roles in barely related subplots about a heroin-addicted singer with a direct line to Jesus and a genius who wants to build an amusement park called JunkieWorld (touted in commercials between scenes throughout the performance).

Despite the disjointed writing, Costolo and Dwyer are very funny, playing off each other with ease and creating sincere (if confused and miserable) characters. Since the two obviously have great comedic instincts, it's disappointing to see them descend to grade school humor about boogers and naked butts. It would be too harsh to say this play deserves its title, but these performers (including Lisa McQueen as "She Who Has Been Wronged") could easily find better vehicles for their talents.

--Kim Wilson

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