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Review Fri Dec 04 2015

The Second City Tries Something Different with Fool Me Twice, Déjà Vu

Second City

The Second City's 104th mainstage revue, Fool Me Twice, Déjà Vu, is a triumphant return to form. It's a gutsy, experimental success. It's the Cloud Atlas of sketch comedy.

If you've read David Mitchell's groundbreaking 2004 novel, you know that comparison is a huge compliment. (If you only saw the 2012 movie adaptation, you're forgiven for thinking it's an insult.) Narratively speaking, Cloud Atlas is a Matryoshka doll, where six stories are split into halves and nested within each other so that the second half of the book mirrors the first.

Fool Me Twice, Deja Vu does something similar, as the title implies. The sketches in the first half of the show are recast, remixed or restaged from a different angle after intermission, and the results are clever, ballsy and unanimously funny. Seemingly taking a cue from the fantastic e.t.c. revue downstairs, Soul Brother, Where Art Thou?, director Ryan Bernier's show is tighter, faster and more manic than his last (the solid but often stiff Panic on Cloud 9).

Gone are the extended, contemplative, hit-or-miss character studies from Panic on Cloud 9. In their place are topical issues ripped from the headlines (police brutality in particular) and brisk, high-concept pieces. Two audience interaction bits land splendidly, and I'm still not sure whether a mid-show break in character was accidental or all part of the plan.

The entire cast was rolling on press night. At this point in their careers, these guys and gals are the '95-'96 Bulls of The Second City: they know each other, and they're really good at what they do. Chelsea Devantez, Paul Jurewicz and Daniel Strauss, alumni from Bernier's last mainstage revue, are all charismatic and iconic enough for Saturday Night Live. In this show, Devantez is the Michael Jordan of the bunch. She's like an even-more-fearless version of Tina Fey who could totally outdrink you and kick your ass.

Jurewicz is the Scottie Pippen, a reliable physical presence who always gets compared to Chris Farley, but is actually much more disciplined and nuanced. Rashawn Nadine Scott, called up from the e.t.c. stage after a great turn in Soul Brother, is the Dennis Rodman, the wildcard who isn't afraid to toe the line with jokes about contemporary race relations. The other three ensemble members don't get quite as many opportunities to showcase what they can do, but still manage to steal a few scenes. Strauss and Shook are the stable role players (Ron Harper and Luc Longley, to continue the sports metaphor), while Jamison Webb (Toni Kukoč) is the sixth man off the bench who would easily start on any other team in the league.

Déjà Vu's mirrored structure could've easily been a clumsy gimmick. Instead, it's a stroke of genius.

Fool Me Twice, Déjà Vu runs every night of the week (except for Mondays), with two showings on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are $23-48 and are available online and at 1616 N. Wells St.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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