Automated Faith Machine, Galileo Players, at Live Bait Theater. It's an age-old dilemma: reason or faith? And when science fails to provide a logical means of unpacking the mysteries of the universe, it's often up to faith to fill the gap. In the Galileo Players' universe, science has always been the way to go--until now. In its last two sketch-comedy revues, the troupe approached its heady material with a scientist's mind and a surgeon's hands, offering a delicate, intellectual alternative to the brain-dead sketch comedy that's become commonplace among the lesser troupes in Chicago. But in Automated Faith Machine the Galileo Players turn their attention to faith, abandoning science and thus losing much of the focus that made their first two revues so incisive.
Faith is, after all, a science in itself. But the science on display here is a soft pop psychology rooted more in Deepak Chopra's oeuvre than anything else; also included are lengthy ruminations on religion and hokey, gag-driven relationship scenes. The troupe's rotating cast of performers remain as sharp as ever, but the writing has taken a critical downturn in this revue. Scenes drone on far too long, and the production runs out of gas after the first act: at two hours, the show is roughly the same length as the Galileo Players' last two shows combined. For a troupe that counts Plato and Pythagoras among its greatest influences, Automated Faith Machine is nothing less than heretical.