Slip, Second City, at Donny’s Skybox Studio. There are probably about a million things funnier than skewering frumpy Victorian-era women, but it takes true skill to pull off a good Emily Dickinson joke. Dina Facklis and Angela Forfia’s sketch about “Thee Antique Dollhouse,” a high-class strip joint where the dancers titillate and edify their patrons by dressing as history’s greatest heroines, is an absurd send-up of male chauvinism–with the smartest Dickinson jab since Spike Jonze staged The Belle of Amherst as a larger-than-life marionette spectacle in Being John Malkovich.

Slip, a two-woman sketch comedy show about relationships, is the theatrical equivalent of a sine wave: tender, dramatic valleys followed by quick quips and comic peaks that catch the audience completely unaware. The longer sketches–including an elaborate scene that centers on a girl, her alcoholic mother, and her autistic sister–aren’t as crisp or punchy as the short, gag-oriented bits. Yet whether Facklis and Forfia are parodying book clubs (“I did all the grunt work on The Color Purple!”) or trendy lesbianism (“I just want to be seen as complex and interesting”), their writing is excellent throughout.

Their stage personae could use work; even allowing for opening-night jitters, both looked a little stiff. And if they could channel a bit more of the raw energy of their writing into their performances, Slip would be even stronger–though as it stands, their failures are every bit as intriguing as their successes.

–Nick Green