Musings of a Jarfly | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Musings of a Jarfly

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Musings of a Jarfly, Galileo Players, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Approximately 50 minutes of the 75 in the Galileo Players' fifth sketch-comedy revue exhibit the curiosity and intelligence befitting the company's alleged pursuit of humor based in "the interplay between science, technology, faith, and reason." In one vignette that manifests this ethos, a father attempts to demystify a wizard's powers in a Harry Potter book with a scientific demonstration of static electricity--only to have his young daughter evoke genuine magic with the same instruments. Then there's the savvy interview with a research scientist who technobabbles about "breakthroughs" and "discoveries" without ever specifying their goal. The rise and fall of the teenage "Johnny Descartes" is predictable but well executed. And a bit about the doorman's greetings at a bar for brainiacs has its moments. ("Good evening, Dr. Heisenberg--what brings you in here tonight?" "I'm really not certain.")

But many intriguing ideas founder in standard-issue shtick: ether-addicted fruit flies in jars rail against experimental genetics, and a laboratory inspection is conducted by (yawn) Nazi-like corporate administrators. Another sketch, in which children resist a psychologist trying to lead them in educational games, recycles the math-class bit in a previous Galileo revue (and once again Robert Smith overdoes his infantile-frustration turn).

The Galileo ensemble is obviously a bright bunch--too bright to settle for dumb gags derived from smart premises.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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