Cupid's Kitchen | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Cupid's Kitchen

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Cupid's Kitchen, Shanana Productions, at Second City, Donny's Skybox Studio. Musical sketch comedy is the focus of this plucky 16-member company in an evening that loosely revolves around assorted complaints to Cupid. The enthusiasm alone in their third revue, energetically staged by Brian Posen, could sell several easy-listening songs despite forced rhymes, tortured meters, and obvious targets. But sometimes, as in a patter quartet detailing cascading contemporary crises, the music reaches contrapuntal complexity. An angel trio of bad people who found God is a ripe example of spunky satire. And a chorus in which paintball soldiers admit they're becoming their dads is appropriately rueful.

Too often Shanana bites off less than it can chew, however. A production number about Mormon wives doesn't hint at the perils of polygamy. A trio about "self-hating Jews" depressed by dietary laws might be cleverer if it got beyond knocking the strictures of Orthodox Judaism. A rhythmic song connecting couples in a therapy waiting room borrows too much from the welfare scene in The Full Monty. And the hick stereotypes in "We Put the Fun in Dysfunctional" went out with Tobacco Road.

For every miss, however, there's a near hit, like the sardonic "She Likes You, but She Doesn't Really Like You Like You." A candlelit hymn to our not-so-private parts admirably condenses The Vagina Monologues, and Ranjit Souri--the most agreeable performer--is poignancy itself belting out a torch song called "Strip Solitaire."

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