Chicken Scratch | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Chicken Scratch


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Chicken Scratch, Sirens, at the Cornservatory. Most improv troupes use audience suggestions, but the Sirens have invented their own form. Each of the nine women has a binder filled with monologues she's written and that no other ensemble member has seen. She picks one, reads it in character, and her cohorts offer several sketches riffing on the underlying themes. A monologue about a groom who wants the wedding tokens to be bumper stickers with his and his bride's hyphenated last names, for instance, gives rise to a sketch about a single mother running for president. When a woman mentions that her sons are hypersexual, a sketch follows about a teenage boy showing off his locker to a girl he likes.

The monologues are hit-and-miss: though some are poignant and some gently funny, none would be able to stand on its own. But the talented ensemble twists the ideas in the monologues into fresh, exciting comedy about relationships, family, sex, and beauty. The sketches are so perfect in their specificity (the teenage boy has a Garfield poster in his locker) and boast such well-realized characters that they sometimes resemble scenes from a well-written play. There are some outrageous moments--in the show I saw, one character had a forked tongue--and many ribald ones, but they arise naturally from the characters. It turns out the Sirens are as enticing as their name suggests.

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