Mayhem! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Mayhem!, at the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, Lab Theater. High-pitched screams, secret plans, sexual innuendo, and continual impending disaster: these are the basic ingredients of a farce, and Mayhem! has them all. Matt Lister's late-night show lives up to its name as we watch a wealthy coterie of artists, actors, dancers, and would-be producers scream their way through a private fund-raising dinner consisting mainly of one-liners and antic merriment. Unfortunately, in the service of a fast and furious pace, the actors mush their lines, and any verbal wit is lost in a shock wave of aimless shouting, gesticulating, and the occasional dance routine.

The most interesting part of the show is the contrast between the Valium-drugged, slow-moving Brad (Don Parker) and the rest of the frenzied cast. They all have their shticks down: evil laughs, AbFab rip-offs, drunkenness, mincing queer bitchiness, Mae West impressions, and Jewish-American Princess tackiness, to name a few. But they're so loud and lively that Brad's slothlike pratfalls are our only respite from the show's constant, muddy overstimulation.

Some of the frenzy and confusion may dissipate as the actors settle into the rhythm of their lines. As it is, Mayhem! demonstrates the power of the calm at the center of a theatrical storm as the comatose Brad steals the show. --Carol Burbank

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