INSANITY FAIR written and performed by Aurora Browne, Paul Constable, Jennifer Goodhue, Pat Kelly and Carolyn Taylor, directed by Michael Kennard. Second City (56 Blue Jays Way). Indefinite run, Monday-Friday 8 pm, Saturday 8 and 10:30 pm. $19-$25. 416-343-0011. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Vengeance is theirs, and they're gonna make you laugh till it hurts.Inspired by American-style aggression, Second City's latest revue, Insanity Fair, is all about getting back big- time, Dubya-style and otherwise.
It's there in a continuing bit about a nerdy high-schooler (Carolyn Taylor) who wants payback from her bullies, and in a funny piece about a young piano-playing daughter (Aurora Browne) who defies her critical father (newcomer Pat Kelly, one of SC's brightest discoveries) by sweetly singing, "Fuck you."
The first Second City revue ever to feature more women in its cast than men, the show, directed by Mike Kennard, feels like a transition piece -- something to whet our appetites for what's to come later.
There are moments of brilliance, including shots at news anchors and one zinger with Jennifer Goodhue as a seal. There's some savage satire, like a health-care scene styled after a tacky self-help seminar. There's also a good sense of theatricality in pieces like act one's musical closer, a savvy look at quick-fix solutions and consumerism.
Some sketches, such as one between a blind man (Paul Constable) and a deaf woman (Browne), don't get huge laughs but work because the people are drawn with care and affection.
Others miss or drone on. A silly look at sexually transmitted diseases styled after a Greek myth wears out its welcome, and a bit about a French singer looking to spread his seed shouldn't have made the cut.
The cast is smaller than I've ever seen it, but there's not a weak link.