The Cold Side of the Pillow | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Cold Side of the Pillow


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The Cold Side of the Pillow, Groovy Grove Productions, at Profiles Theatre. At one time, such popular comedians as Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Danny Kay, Jackie Gleason, and Carol Burnett had their own variety shows instead of sitcoms. Using that old-time model, The Cold Side of the Pillow might well be called "The John McDermott Show," comprised as it is of short sketches featuring the star.

Playwright-performer McDermott plays Bobby Richardson, a muscle boy who freely admits to having no brains or talent but whose self-confidence is nevertheless unshakable. Within the framing device of flashbacks during a psychiatrist's interview, we meet Bobby as a child receiving a box of dirt for Christmas. Bobby as a teenager trying to make it in sports despite having no arms (they were amputated in an accident, he explains, and surgically reattached some years later). Bobby chasing girls, though he shies from any suggestion that he have sex with them. And Bobby striking music-video poses with a band called Huh.

Like its prototypes, this show includes a supporting cast whose duties consist chiefly of feeding straight lines to the star, who interrupts and ad-libs shamelessly. Those charmed by the innocent optimism of McDermott's persona will enjoy an entertaining two hours. All others will wish they'd come supplied with their own beer, as many audience members were on opening night.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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