Like Saturday Night Live, audiences know they can turn to The Second City for a response to what is happening in the world around them. Gaslight District, the 42nd revue from The Second City e.t.c., attempts to take on almost everything in the news from the past year or so. Thanks to the talented ensemble, the results are uproarious
There is not a weak link in the cast. Each performer begins the show by announcing their generic spot amongst their peers ("I'm a palatable lesbian!" and "I'm ethnically ambiguous!" are among them) before they embrace their 'types' and then subvert them. The group's improv skills prove especially striking; the cast brilliantly riffed on the information supplied to them by a chosen audience member. It was so witty and sharp that I almost had trouble believing it was improvised at all.
While the general shape of the show will be familiar to anyone who has spent an evening at The Second City before, you'll see all types of sketches, plus elements of improv, music, and audience interaction--the layered sketches propel the well-known structure to a new level. Dealing with a number of heavy subjects, many of the sketches take a nuanced, critical approach to the material, blending comedy and sensitivity with a deft hand.
At the same time, the show never stops moving and loses no momentum between acts. As usual, The Second City shows how it's done. Gaslight District is a political-comedy masterstroke.
Review by Jason Berger
Gaslight District is now playing in an open run at The Second City. More info here.
The Hawk Chicago is included in TheatreInChicago's Review Round-Up.