Objection! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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OBJECTION! The Courtroom drama? Open Eye Productions, at O Bar & Cafe. After an all-too-brief period of inspired innovation in the early 90s, improv has mostly settled back into the rut it was in before: self-indulgent performances, go-nowhere experiments, and shows more entertaining for the performers than for the audience. This fully improvised jury trial by Open Eye Productions is yet another sign that the party is over, though the show's setup is vaguely promising. Before the performance, jury members are selected from the audience; there are also a few ringers from the cast. We're asked to suggest a crime and the place where it occurred, and the cast conducts a mock trial based on this information.

The show has numerous problems, however. For one, the cast members are clearly divided on what tone to take: some opt for a broader, more obvious kind of comedy (as when Jon C. Sevigny plays the judge as a mad hatter with multiple personalities) while others seem more concerned with re-creating the look and feel of an actual trial, trusting that comedy will arise from the situation. Prosecuting and defense attorneys Elizabeth Margolius, Noah Simon, and Sara Elesh are the most deeply invested in this more realistic style. A deeper problem is that no one seems well enough versed in the rituals of the American judicial system--as far as I can tell, there are no lawyers in the cast--to come up with anything fresh or insightful to say. --Jack Helbig

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