It's Not Me...It's Me | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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It's Not Me...It's Me

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It's Not Me...It's Me, at the Playground. Long-form improv is hard to do--and often really hard to watch. So this Sunday-night gem was a relief. A mutation of the world-renowned Harold, which produces 30 to 45 minutes of material from a single audience suggestion, this hour-long piece links about three dozen dialogues derived from several written audience responses to the question "What do you most desire?" The show I attended introduced a brain surgeon who no longer wanted to work; a woman who stuffed her baby girl back into the womb (with the surgeon's help), hoping to transform it into a boy; and couples undergoing all manner of relationship problems.

Unlike the twitchy free-for-alls many improv evenings become, this one featured an almost linear plot progression and characters who revealed themselves more deeply each time they appeared. As directed by Joe Bill, the actors showed impressive concentration and physical dexterity--particularly the couple portraying two episodes of domestic violence, each without the partner onstage. Comedy of every kind was abundant, from deadpan one-liners to hilarious situations: one couple couldn't click sexually until they came up with the Burger King fantasy. (You wanna Super Size it? Huh?) Although the audience suggestions didn't provide much of a map, it was unfailingly exciting to see where these performers would land.

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