Chicago Theater Review: SANDYLAND (MCA)

Post image for Chicago Theater Review: SANDYLAND (MCA)

by Erika Mikkalo on December 5, 2013

in Theater-Chicago


Singer, comedienne and anti-glam diva Sandra Bernhard thrives on delightfully toying with her adoring throngs. I remember the first time I saw her on the David Letterman show when she snarled into the mic: “It’s that time of the month again.” When the SANDYLAND  Sandra Bernhard - Photo by Kevin Thomas Garciaaudience responded with nervous titters, she nailed them with: “The rent’s due.” At Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art last night,  dedicated fans whistled and shrieked during her touring one-woman autobiographical stand-up act Sandyland, in which Ms. Bernhard spends more time alluding to shopping than the rent, snarls were few, and pauses were of the “let’s workshop this together” variety more than precisely timed comedic beats. As usual, the audience was updated on the travails of her travels, entourage, and career, and one barb did emerge during the obligatory local material: An insight into a fundamental quandary faced by the Obama family. If you love all things Sandra, including the fact that she parades her unpracticed pretense as an actual show, you will enjoy this performance. If you are expecting an edited and practiced set of consistent cultural criticism, look elsewhere.

She has attitude. She has presence. That you will always get. Her band, “The Fabulous Zircons,” provided fine musical accompaniment, rolling out some solid rock to accompany five songs. But while belting her tunes in a voice that mirrors her makeshift performance, some songs felt more like filler than integral to the routine; they were merely interludes spacing her sparse material. Yes, there were SANDYLAND  Sandra Bernhardmoments that shone in acerbic glory, especially the deserved shots at our god-awful contemporary crassness, celebrity culture, and compulsory consumption.  One joke combined her role as an LGBT performer and her new responsibilities as a parent with a pun that earned the roar of laughter that followed. That one line reminded me why I had been enthusiastic about attending. It is a shame that we had to wait an hour to hear it. It’s amazing that this self-appointed cultural commentator has become the mediocrity she has been railing against all these years.

photos by Kevin Thomas Garcia

Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago
scheduled to end on December 7, 2013
for tickets, call 312-397-4010 or visit

Comments on this entry are closed.