My 9 Naked Friends | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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My 9 Naked Friends

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Emerging Artists Project, at Turn Around Theatre.

The teasing title is a crock--or, as one character puts it, "The whole naked thing is just a ploy." Indeed, we're meant to be embarrassed by the idea of naked bodies, just as the ten palpably nudophobic actors are. Sure, it's OK to argue that nudity is not needed--but then don't put it in your title or ask an audience member to remove his/her shirt/blouse to inspire an actor to do the same. And don't make us feel silly for swallowing a phony premise.

Borrowing its plot from Jeffrey, its titillation from Party, and its inspiration from The Gong Show, this inept late-night revue concerns a shy young gay man with no gay friends who implausibly seeks advice from his straight chums on how to find a lover who can outlast the "three-date threshold." Lumbered with generic songs so ineptly written and delivered they spoof themselves, this lame staging by Becky Brett and lyricist Kevin Kosik assumes that perky sincerity is a surrogate for wit. The synthesizer tunes (by Kelly Beaman) and their lyrics exist in separate universes. The breathless revelations--that all the cute guys are gay, that straight men hate drag, that a flute player can give good oral sex, and that fantasies are fun--are obvious and bland. And though the cast are engaging and attractive, they perform as if they've just met backstage.

Even as part of the depressing trend of shows that double as advice columns, My 9 Naked Friends fails, pretending to address a gay man's fear of feeling without once mentioning AIDS. But then that would only sober up a script already sagging with padded anecdotes, gargantuan exposition, and DOA jokes.

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