Sue Your Ex | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Sue Your Ex, ImprovOlympic.

A sort of Fun With Torts, ImprovOlympic's new Friday-night concoction is billed as Chicago's first comedy courtroom (though in 1970 Judge Julius Hoffman and the Chicago Seven came close). Exploiting our voyeuristic delight in hearing other people confess their crack-ups, the performers (alumni of Northwestern University's Mee-Ow Show) may have found a new tabloid-type niche.

Combining Jones & Jury with The Dating Game, this mainly improvised, happily nonbinding trial centers on an audience member who levels a grievance against a former lover for a relationship crime; 12 other audience members are picked to render justice, or at least a verdict. On trial was audience member Jo, whose former lover Pete had moved to New York. As Jo testified about Pete's allegedly flagrant "possessiveness" and "disrespect," the comics improvised scenes from the couple's dysfunctional past, also illustrating any "great truths" that happened to come up in the testimony (such as the need for a couple to be open and honest with each other).

Led by a deadpan-daffy Ed Herbstman as the judge, the prosecutor and defense counsel displayed impeccable courtroom procedure and jargon, though some scenes strayed into irrelevance and then into tedium. By a seven-to-five vote Jo was found guilty of misconstruing Pete's shyness as rudeness. She was forced to apologize to Pete, who was reached by phone and graciously accepted her apology. Sue Your Ex wasn't quite the bloodletting some might have wanted, but at least it was laced with laughs.

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