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Junior High

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Junior High, at the Second City, Donny's Skybox Studio. Junior high school can be an absolutely terrifying experience: for the self-conscious teen, acne, braces, dating, and the onset of puberty are all scourges. But even more formative and trying is the ten-year period afterward marking the uneasy transition to adulthood, from the first day of high school to the first job after college.

These six improvisers may have hit upon the mother lode of material with Junior High, a free-form improvisation that chronicles the best and worst of life from a junior high school graduation party to a reunion ten years later. And they've devised a winning method of taking suggestions: literally ripping characters' names from the pages of a phone book. But it seems their premise is as difficult to carry out as those years are to bear. From the show's opening, it's clear that this group of Second City Training Center students is more than a little wet behind the ears.

But it's not the troupe's lack of experience that ultimately eliminates the possibility of a cohesive linear narrative--it's the show's poor pacing and awkward format: the focus passes between the characters with the grace of a half-inflated basketball. Right now, all this show has going for it are its premise and phone book gimmick. This Junior High has some serious hurdles to jump before it can compete. --Nick Green

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