SLOTNICK KATZ & LEHR, Steppenwolf Studio Theatre. I keep calling this show Skolnik Katz & Lehr. Not because I’m dyslexic but because, having seen it, I think it bears the same nostalgic relation to Chicago’s golden age of improv in the early 90s that Skolnik’s quick-frozen, presplit bagels (in your freezer case now) have to the warm, fresh, crunchy yet soft treats you used to get at real delis.

True, Lauren Katz and John Lehr are former members of Ed and thus true veterans of this golden age. True, Katz is still able to transform herself from shrinking-violet daughter to abusive husband to alienated chauffeur with amazing ease, and Lehr is still superb when he plays his trademark sweet, perverse woman. But overall the show, which ran only about 50 minutes, lacked the spark and passion of the longer shows of the early 90s. Perhaps Katz, Lehr, and Joey Slotnick have been in LA too long. Or maybe they just need a good director, like Ed cofounder Jim Dennen, to kick them into shape.

Whatever the cause, I wondered, leaving the show, why the Steppenwolf folks felt they had to go all the way to LA to find improvisers for their studio, when all they had to do was take a quick cab to Second City, ImprovOlympic, or the Annoyance to find two dozen performers as good as Slotnick, Katz, and Lehr–and hungrier.

–Jack Helbig