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Mini-Review (Theater)

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This revue of satirical political songs has a simple formula: targets are trotted out, some perfunctory identifying patter segues into music, and just as the tune becomes recognizable, the songwriters reveal the atrocious pun that welds the joke to the title--"Clinton's Libido Loca," "Putin on the Ritz," a vague Arafat type's "Hello Muddah, Hello Fatah." These are routines with early punch lines and long wrap-ups, but the performers' background makes their shows more than just highbrow Yankovic-ian exercises: all are current or former congressional staffers. Their conceits are fleshed out in genuine Washingtonese, and since the ensemble come from the culture they're lambasting, it's fascinating to see where they're gentler or fiercer than the mainstream. The Arafat bit is borderline offensive on its face but actually articulates Palestinian concerns better than most news accounts, and a piece sending up Serbian propaganda is so jingoistic it commits every sin it condemns. Thanks to the recent reformulation of the executive status quo, these performances should feature new material. But given the complexity of that reformulation and the prescience of their last show--most notably a bit where Al Gore picks Elian Gonzalez as his VP, hoping to carry an "important" southern state, and a takeoff on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in which Regis tries as hard as he can to hand the game to a moronic Dubya--it's a good bet the new one will be good. North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300. January 19 and 20: Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 5 and 8 PM. $37. --Brian Nemtusak

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