They Got Too Smart | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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They Got Too Smart

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They Got Too Smart, Mongoose Productions, at Frankie J's on Broadway. Ed (Ernie Springer) spends his days watching a giant plasma television, paid for with three months' rent money. His life is a wasteland. Unfortunately, he's trapped in a production that's also lost its way, with an incomprehensible plot and undeveloped flashes of insight into popular culture. Ed has a friend, Ron (Sam Ambler), a pissed-off landlord (Trudy Watt), and a cleaning lady who may or may not be from Lithuania (Gabrielle Reisman). Then, for some reason, the host of a reality-TV show (Mike Harvey) moves in with Ed and refuses to leave.

This hour-long production could have been funny and interesting, but it's not. The dialogue is flat and confused, and the story fails to make any salient points on its theme: that television has negative effects on the young. What almost save the show are the short videos Ed's supposedly watching on TV. Exceptionally well edited by Ambler and written by Reisman (no cinematographer or director is credited), they show imagination and fire. One music video takes place in a land built of Legos where women have interchangeable heads, and a funny parody of the television show Elimidate ends with a guy making out with a broom. In short, the play's an OK if flimsy excuse to run the videos.

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