Popcorn | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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POPCORN, Profiles Theatre. Surprisingly this clear-eyed, sharp-edged satire of contemporary Hollywood was written by a Brit. Maybe we're all so wrapped up in entertaining ourselves that we can't see things as clearly as Ben Elton. There isn't a wrong move in his very funny dark comedy, about a violence-loving director (think Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino) who suddenly finds his house invaded by a pair of psychos modeling their killing spree on the director's current bloody hit, a Natural Born Killers knockoff called "Ordinary Americans." The play's targets are easy--LA superficiality, Hollywood BS, and southern-fried criminals--but Elton manages to find something original to say about American violence, the movie industry, and our sensation-hungry media. He's also a great storyteller who keeps us on the edge of our seats.

Director Patrick Wilkes--who directed the stage version of Reservoir Dogs--proves himself Elton's equal at every turn. Running a little over two hours, the show is perfectly paced. Even more impressive, Wilkes finds just the right balance of humor and thrills. And everyone in this fine ensemble, with one exception, delivers terrific balls-out performances. Sadly the one exception is Profiles artistic director Joe Jahraus in the lead: he plays the director so woodenly that he wouldn't look out of place in a high school production. Fortunately there are eight other actors like Stacy Parker, who know what they have and how to use it. Darrell W. Cox, playing one of the killers, has never been better: he seems every twitch and sneer the ultimate white-trash killing machine.

--Jack Helbig

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