Unauthorized | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Unauthorized, the Shit, at the Bird's Nest. Celebrities are given ample opportunity to reveal themselves to be pretentious, vapid, or idiotic. But seemingly boring nine-to-fivers don't have the benefit of media exposure to reverse the impression of the human condition created by famous people. Monologuist Spalding Gray and filmmaker Errol Morris organize their work around this principle: they manage to draw comedy and drama from human existence without condescending to their subjects. Presumably that's also the theory behind Unauthorized, the Shit improv troupe's weekly biography of one "very lucky" audience member.

On the night I attended, the players spent ten minutes interviewing a gun-shy twentysomething human-resources associate, then couldn't even get her name straight in the ensuing performance. Even more egregious, the troupe offered no insight into her life, no indication of what it's like to slave away at a soul-sucking job, and no reflection on the trials of childhood or marriage. Instead they indulged in a tiresome spate of poop jokes, mainly at the expense of her husband, a septic-tank salesman. By the time the troupe dragged the woman back onstage to honor her at the end of the show, she appeared more humiliated than amused. Unauthorized doesn't offer much in the way of redemption to the John and Jane Does of this world; for the most part it's too smug and hollow to be anything but tedious.

--Nick Green

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