Chicagostyle, Factory Theater, at Angel Island. In Factory Theater's early days, the ensemble frequently staged sketch revues as a way of showcasing members' writing and allowing them to recharge between full-length scripts. But compared to the company's more ambitious projects during its mid-90s heyday, these shows seemed slapdash and insufficiently edited. The rough edges were a necessary by-product, however, of the company's stance against the slickly produced comedy shows of the time. The Factory's revues--deadpan confessional monologues, silly songs, vaudevillian sketches--celebrated their workmanlike approach to comedy, where minor indulgences were redeemed by rich character work and simple but efficient production.
Chicagostyle, the company's love letter to Mayor Daley's personal fiefdom, stays true to the promise of its earlier work by keeping things light and immediate. Admittedly, it's a little discouraging to watch the next generation encounter the same potholes in the revue format as their predecessors. But it's exciting to see them roll with a really good idea, like a city-sponsored dance troupe that applies a rah-rah mentality to Chicago's multiethnic neighborhoods. And when a scene's firing on all cylinders--as in Dale Rivera's perfectly pitched rant against the city's ignorant dog owners--it proves that everything the Factory got right back in '93 still applies.