Codependence Day | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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CODEPENDENCE DAY, at Second City, Skybox Studio Theatre. A sketch revue first improvised, then transcribed, Codependence Day has passed the most rudimentary stage of development but hasn't quite reached the status of finished micronarratives. Thankfully we're spared the familiar improv exercises, but many of the vignettes do little more than carry out the premise of the title ad nauseam.

Some of the scenes, however, are well on their way to completion, like the one in which a widow announces to her doting son that she wants her own life now, or when an elderly couple reaffirm their affection in playful banter that conceals a deeper fear. Others show considerable potential: a conversation between two students, one American and one German, on a train in Europe sets up an intriguing dynamic; unfortunately, it goes nowhere. But the wealthy matrons whining about their servants and the couple who pass yet another anniversary vilifying each other are characters we've met too many times before, as are the honky-tonk sluts who get progressively drunker and hornier on a lonely Saturday night.

The players, though obviously all talented, tend to repeat characterizations and to work their Hee Haw accents too hard. A notable exception is Michael Ross, who makes the German student, the doting son, and even a wordless cowboy into distinct, instantly recognizable personalities, hinting at biographies about which we want to know more.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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