Straight Up With a Twist | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Straight Up With a Twist

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Straight Up With a Twist, at the Lakeshore Theater. A twist is precisely what's lacking in this one-man show about a heterosexual male with refined tastes--sort of a "Queer Eye in the Straight Guy." Every line is a variation on this joke, and while many are funny, eventually the show descends from facile to obvious.

Paul Stroili is an appealing performer who's not quite charming enough to carry this off as a stand-up routine and a decent actor who's not quite skilled enough to delineate the supporting characters. His brother is a crude caricature of straight guys as pelvis-thrusting Neanderthals, his psychiatrist predictably crazy, his Italian father goopy and sentimental. (But his comment on being of German-Italian descent is amusing: "We're people who are very passionate about wanting to control the world.") The most interesting character is Stroili's foulmouthed mother, though he needs to remember which hand is holding her imaginary cigarette. With her unflinching takes on pretty much everything from her son's unfortunate looks to his struggles with gender roles ("Yes, I have three children--one of each"), this bawdy broad rates an entire show of her own.

The rest of the audience seemed to find Stroili's pleasant evening a riot. To me, stereotypes are interesting only when they're commented upon; but if you like seeing them reenacted, Straight Up is the show for you.

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