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Incorruptible

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Incorruptible, LeTraunik Productions, at Chicago Dramatists Workshop. Michael Hollinger's comedy (not to be confused with Christopher Cartmill's much praised drama of the same name) opens with a lengthy Gregorian chant version of the theme for The Monkees, played over the PA system. Later we hear similar versions of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" and Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"--hardly sidesplitting humor, but the device does set the tone for this broad, wiseass production. Unfortunately, Hollinger seems to think that the way to get the most out of a joke is to tell it again and again.

Set in the Dark Ages in a French monastery, where down-on-their-luck monks plot to make big business out of digging up bones and passing them off as the remains of saints, Hollinger's satire of organized religion strives to marry the Grand Guignol humor of Sweeney Todd with the monastic mystery of The Name of the Rose. And Incorruptible is ably plotted, with a few clever twists here and there. But its sub-Mel Brooks one-liners and purportedly witty asides merely undercut what little interest one might have had in the story, reportedly based loosely on fact.

Matters aren't helped much by LeTraunik Productions. Director Mark-John McSheehy's mugging, vaudevillian staging sells the laugh lines so hard and shovels on the slapstick mayhem so heavily that what little trenchant social commentary there is remains buried. This production isn't so much irreverent as irrelevant.

--Adam Langer

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