Jack O'Shea: The Saga Begins | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Jack O'Shea: The Saga Begins


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Jack O'Shea: The Saga Begins, Hairy Calahan Productions, at the Breadline Theatre. "You see some crazy things on the street," confides the hard-boiled cop in this James Cook comedy--which also confirms that crazy things can be seen in late-night theater. But it's the audacious nonsense in this loosely plotted Jack O'Shea installment that makes the show work. O'Shea is an alcoholic with an anger management problem. You know this isn't going to be the typical police detective tale when he addresses the audience in conventional gumshoe fashion but with booze in hand, no pants (they've been stolen by prostitutes), and his gun still smoking from shooting a dog. There's also a crime lord with a Gary Numan cover band, a secret-agent gorilla who becomes a crack whore, and a lecherous police captain who can't keep his pants on either.

Firmly planted in the 80s, with a rich sound track from the era and ongoing scoffing at Nancy Reagan's "just say no" campaign, this is a bizarre story of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, with crime shoehorned in. Under Bruno De Souza's direction, cast standouts are Cook's simmering O'Shea, Benjamin Capps's insane drug lord, and Guy Schingoethe as the grizzled police chief.

The opening-night glitches will surely be worked out, but the (uncredited) fight choreography needs more finesse. Still, this is a great, brassy 70-minute show for those who think they've seen everything.

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