The Inevitable Crunch Factor | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Inevitable Crunch Factor

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The Inevitable Crunch Factor, Trap Door Theatre.

Late-60s counterculture lore had it that Lewis Carroll was an occasional user of opiates. Whether true or not, this belief spawned a rash of satirical playlets, based on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, in which an innocent young woman was surrounded by grotesquely surreal companions.

Nearly 30 years later the heroine of Catherine Sullivan's "weird play," The Inevitable Crunch Factor, is not named Alice (she's called Floppy Disc), but she claims to have been born in the 60s and is therefore a "child of the 60s." After vowing to Take Charge of Her Life--a crusade that requires her to move to northern California--she's alternately abused and advised by male stereotypes with redneck accents, a drunken Ayn Rand, a German-accented troll got up like the Human Fly, and a sour-faced janitor who vainly ministers to a toilet bowl crammed with gynecological paraphernalia.

The targets of Sullivan's satire, however, are ambiguous. And unfortunately the Trap Door company has adopted a 1960s performance style that creates a kaleidoscopic mess of sensory distortion and analogical props (a hair dryer stands in as a cowboy's gun, for example). The resulting visual, aural, and kinetic clutter all but buries the narrative and seriously undermines the power of Sullivan's lyrical language. The enthusiastic all-female cast dutifully assume a variety of eccentric postures and exaggerated vocalizations, but they can't come across as anything but a reminder of a theatrical fashion that nobody was sorry to see disappear a quarter of a century ago.

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