A Matter of Taste II, Seventh Sense Productions, at European Repertory Company. At its best, sketch comedy combines carefully constructed scenes with wry, penetrating humor; at its worst, it's a test of audience stamina--long-winded, obscure, and feverishly dull.
A Matter of Taste II rests somewhere between the two extremes. For a show that prides itself on being tasteless and "non-PC," it's surprisingly tame and inoffensive. For the most part taboos remain intact; the majority of the material barely rates an R. The eight-member company takes potshots at easy targets (inbred rednecks, mall security guards) and serves up a handful of bland pop-culture parodies (The X-Files, Spice Girls). Confronted with this uninspired Saturday Night Live-style fare, it's tough not to have a been there, done that attitude.
Individual sketches could be tightened and revised; as it stands, many drag on past their punch lines, forcing the actors to resort to pratfalls and mugging for a few strained laughs. Perhaps that's why Seventh Sense Productions relies so heavily on live musical accompaniment, though Smitty and Goliath's smarmy song parodies consistently steal focus from the other performers: if it weren't for the duo's off-color musical humor, A Matter of Taste II might fail to distinguish itself entirely. Still, the show has its amusing moments, thanks mostly to enthusiastic performances, solid character work, and the ensemble's seemingly endless supply of energy. --Nick Green