Mlife Sentence | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Mlife Sentence

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Mlife Sentence, Circuit Court Jester, at ImprovOlympic. The six actors in this sketch-comedy show, directed by Peter Gwinn, are consistently entertaining but seldom outright hilarious. Writer-performers Michael Bertrando, Brendan Dowling, Dina Facklis, Brian Golinvaux, Megan Grano, and John Stoops all demonstrate versatility and sound comic timing. In one of the best scenes, Grano and Bertrando communicate freely via E-mail and voice mail but speak awkwardly in person. And Dowling as a fledgling porn actor talking on a cell phone on a crowded el offers rich character work (though the scene's ending is obvious). Videos imitating dating shows and commercials, directed by Chris Rubeo, cleverly complement the live scenes.

Some of the material in this 80-minute show (with an unnecessary intermission that allows for drink refills) is sharply written and original. But too much of it is familiar, offering a new approach to old scenarios rather than exploring fresh ideas. The song introducing the "obligatory sketch-show cross-dressing scene" is good for a quick laugh, for example, but the scene itself doesn't work, one of a handful that fall flat or lack purpose. On opening night, accompanying music often drowned out what might have been funny lines in other sketches.

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