CATCH IT IF YOU CAN, Hodar Productions, at Link's Hall. This Second City-style comedy revue, written and performed by a cast of young improvisers, is based on a premise that's not half bad: all the sketches are set on one of four CTA el lines. Unfortunately, having come up with this mildly intriguing gimmick, no one bothered to write any material worth performing. (Ominously, the playbill contains no writing credit for this endless, poorly directed, hour-long show.)
Most of the sketches fit one of two categories: long, belabored, and obvious or long, unfocused, and baffling. The few bits that have some comic potential--as when a fascist train conductor turns the routine "no smoking" speech into an excuse to regulate everyone's lives--desperately need editing. And sadly the performances are, for the most part, no better than the script, with lots of telegraphed punch lines, flatly delivered dialogue, and awkward physical shtick.
Still, the show does contain a few diamonds in the rough. Juliette Howe is amusing as a subway flirt, and Chad Newman--though too young for almost every role he has--performs with so much energy and self-assurance that I wanted to see how he'd fare with real comedy, not this ersatz shit so many young actors feel emboldened to create just because they've got a few hours of improv under their belts. --Jack Helbig