Embryos on Ice! Or Fetus Don’t Fail Me now, Second City. Much of what Second City has accomplished over the past four decades has depended on a principle articulated by John F. Kennedy: that true freedom can be gauged by the degree to which a nation is free to criticize its leaders. The best revues in recent memory were absolutely fearless when it came to slaughtering sacred cows and mediating between the silly and the sublime. And despite recent attacks on national security (which delayed the opening by more than a week), this show ought to have been business as usual for Second City, challenging anything and everything that compromises our freedom.

Yet the troupe’s 87th revue, Embryos on Ice! or Fetus Don’t Fail Me Now, feels awfully tame. To be fair, the talented ensemble add depth with winning performances, and the evening boasts its share of sharp moments, including a clever bit about the new state quarters and a beautifully choreographed riff on school violence. Time may give this somewhat aimless show the focus it needs, but catharsis relies on a large-scale attack: dumbed-down humor may help heal superficial wounds, but it takes considerable passion and intelligence to foster discourse and move forward.