Farewell My CompuServe | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Farewell My CompuServe


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Farewell My CompuServe, Second City E.T.C. Second City E.T.C.'s 16th revue offers more fluid transitions (most mimed to suggest continuity), more running jokes, and fewer hit-and-run blackout scenes. Like The Upright Citizens Brigade: Perestroika, this show begins and ends with strong, paranoia-ridden ballads about technosurveillance, a theme that also underlies a sinister sketch about a cable customer (Dee Ryan) stymied by a nosy face (the rubber puss of Jim Zulevic) staring from the tube and by the cable company's access to her darkest secrets.

As in other recent revues, the playing here is superior to the writing. There's the wacky physical grace of Zulevic and Miriam Tolan as love-struck air-traffic signalers whose erotic ballet merges two planes. Newcomer Jerry Minor, the chief zany in the "Million Clown March," brilliantly sends up Louis Farrakhan as he reviles the "circus power structure." Brian Stack and Ryan depict a distraught cabby and a passenger intent on offing her ex-husband, a scene that lasts long enough to deepen--unlike pseudo-quirky bits about two incoherent geezers, a predictably dysfunctional family, and an obnoxious boyfriend who turns strangely serious in a sequel.

Also fresher than the lines is the music, including the first-act African pop ballad in which two stuffy hunters confess their female phobia. Four men play competing geriatrics on a park bench in "He Got the Cancer," giving graphic medical histories of people they know. Clean endings remain a problem, but Farewell My CompuServe knows that it's wise to be too busy to bore.

--Lawrence Bommer

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