BEST DOPE IN TOWN, at Improv-Olympic. This autobiographical one-man show tells how star Ric Borelli overcame the divorce of affluent parents and an extremely unfair drug bust to go from smug, spoiled Wilmette youth to coldly self-involved LA actor. It’s an inspirational tale: young Ric, though only dealing enough to “supplement his income” and buy the occasional Alfa Romeo, gets sent to prison by Ronald Reagan (boo), in the process getting all this material for his show (hooray). Then he’s released and does the show (hooray).

Though Borelli is clearly a gifted mimic and dynamic performer, his lack of empathy for the other players in his story may explain why it’s impossible to feel much for him. Of course there are any number of other reasons. The plot is almost sketchier than my synopsis, due partly to dramatic necessity and partly to Borelli’s attempt to gloss over its unbelievabilities. His efforts to portray himself as an everyman are consistently undercut by dead giveaways of his class and deep sense of entitlement. And his array of characters–from coked-up defense attorney to snotty prison counselor to his (ha, ha, ha) ethnic father–is at heart self-serving, a gallery of accusatory grotesques.

But it’s Borelli’s mercenary approach to his story that makes this such a bore: on some level he seems uncommitted to his creations except as tools to display his formidable technique. Unfortunately only the casting directors in the audience will care.

–Brian Nemtusak