Chicago Theater Review: A CLOWN CAR NAMED DESIRE (The Second City e.t.c.)

by Samantha Nelson on June 27, 2013

in Theater-Chicago

SHOOTING EASY TARGETS

As is often the case at Second City shows, an early musical number explains the theme of A Clown Car Named Desire. Reality is filled with disappointment, hardship and boredom, so why not live in a dream where you can run away and join the circus? But the latest e.t.c. show could use a wakeup call.

Samantha Nelson’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of A CLOWN CAR NAMED DESIRE - The Second City e.t.c. Theatre

This is usually the place to find edgier comedy than you’ll see on Second City’s main stage, but A Clown Car Named Desire‘s satire is aimed at the easiest of targets. There’s an idiot with an arsenal who opposes gun control because it will leave him vulnerable come the zombie apocalypse. Another sketch is devoted to the idea that the medical treatment at Walgreens just might not be as good as what you’ll find in a real doctor’s office.  Discount store Aldi and the people who work at Dairy Queen are the butt of multiple jokes.  The result comes across as obnoxiously elitist.

Samantha Nelson’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of A CLOWN CAR NAMED DESIRE - The Second City e.t.c. Theatre

Director Ryan Bernier employs a few longer form sketches, which are always a riskier. You’ll never blame a great sketch for being too short, but a weak sketch feels even weaker when stretched. The format works beautifully for the show’s opener, a sweet and awkward interaction between a simple dude (Chris Witaske) and his gay brother’s prom date (Mike Kosinski), but it’s a problem for a scene ragging on the hipsters that work at American Apparel. These are also easy targets and while I’m sure the cast wanted to get the most out of the outrageous costume pieces they’ve gathered – especially Witaske’s stretch pants — the punch line gets tired quick.

Samantha Nelson’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of A CLOWN CAR NAMED DESIRE - The Second City e.t.c. Theatre

A Clown Car Named Desire is at its best when if fully embraces the whimsy of its name, as in a short sketch that shows a soap-opera style fight between a couple due to the man’s obsession with squeaky shoes. Even better is a scene at a Laundromat that shifts from idle conversation between two guys into a surreal circus that shows off Sarah Ross and Kyle Anderson’s scenic and lighting design.

Samantha Nelson’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of A CLOWN CAR NAMED DESIRE - The Second City e.t.c. Theatre

It’s a shame there’s not more of this, because the show has a really excellent cast: Carisa Barreca has a stunning voice that musical director Alex Kliner puts to good use; Witaske is a phenomenal straight man who capably dives into absurdity; and Mike Kosinski uses his lanky frame for some spot-on physical humor. Punam Patel provokes laughs with her seeming lack of shame and e.t.c. veteran Michael Lehrer shines as both a hokey game show host and an enraged Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Brooke Breit charms with a pathetic turn as a lonely woman obsessed with The Secret. This is a group that shines when it aims high. It just needs some better targets.

Samantha Nelson’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of A CLOWN CAR NAMED DESIRE - The Second City e.t.c. TheatreSamantha Nelson’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of A CLOWN CAR NAMED DESIRE - The Second City e.t.c. Theatrephotos by Todd Rosenberg

A Clown Car Named Desire
The Second City e.t.c. Theatre
1608 N. Wells Street, 2nd floor of Piper’s Alley
ends on May 31, 2014
for tickets, call 312-337-3992
or visit Second City

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

Samantha Nelson’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of A CLOWN CAR NAMED DESIRE - The Second City e.t.c. Theatre

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