God in a Box and Gulch: A Lesbian Western | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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God in a Box and Gulch: A Lesbian Western

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GOD IN A BOX AND GULCH: A Lesbian Western, Annoyance Theatre. For over a decade the Annoyance, with its crude brand of scatological humor, has invited audiences to revel in the boundlessness of human stupidity. Perhaps that's why God in a Box, which offers an equally entertaining and edifying type of escapism, is such a refreshing surprise. This two-man show developed through improvisation revolves around a hack film actor and a popular cartoonist. The government has placed a ban on individual creativity, and both men are struggling to locate the wellspring of the creative impulse.

Dick Costolo slips effortlessly in and out of over a dozen parts, including a series of Hollywood agents, the leader of an underground resistance movement, and an affected Scottish narrator. In the two straight-man roles, Mark Sutton has less opportunity to showcase his range, but there's a remarkable synchronicity between his restrained, deadpan delivery and Costolo's more frenetic performance. Gleeful pop-culture references and carefully constructed analogies provide some incisive moments; even more clever is the play's deconstruction of theater, reflected in Sutton's hilarious explanations of monologues and narrators. God in a Box has its share of dense moments, but for the most part it's well crafted, intelligent, and wickedly funny.

Gulch: A Lesbian Western, on the other hand, sinks to the nadir of comedy. Set in the frontier town of Hairy Gulch, this vacuous parody follows the adventures of Catfish Annie and a motley crew of oversexed lesbians. Jed Resnik does a fine job as a Mexican outlaw who disguises himself as a preacher, but the rest of the cast give overcooked, horribly campy performances.

Given the mind-numbing script, that's no surprise. One character mistakes a mason jar of horse urine for white wine and drinks it. Another tries to fend off his erections with frequent trips to the bathroom. Two-thirds of the jokes involve graphic references to oral sex; the other third consists of venomous attacks on everyone from homosexuals to the handicapped. Unless you want an emetic, there's nothing even vaguely redeeming about this putrid piece of tripe.

--Nick Green

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