SUCCULENCE, Pod Productions, at Second City, Donny’s Skybox Studio. For years Chicago’s comedy scene has been dominated by straight, white, middle-class, not particularly rebellious or introspective men. But there are only so many sketches one can write about dissatisfied husbands, exasperated Cubs fans, and jerks trying to pick up women in bars. After a while even straight white male audiences get tired of scenes in which women are only girlfriends or secretaries or whores.
Succulence, an all-female comedy show, was clearly put together to remedy this situation. And to some extent it does. It’s thrilling to see three women comedy writers and five funny actresses given free rein to come up with a spectrum of roles, from angry adolescents to funny drunks to well-meaning neighbors to repressed society women. This freedom opens up topics like women’s legitimate anger and female sexuality that probably wouldn’t be explored in a mixed-gender show.
But for all its energy and rebellious bravado, Succulence isn’t particularly funny. Most of the sketches run way too long. And those that don’t still feel like they do because the acting is so sluggish and the direction, by Monica Payne, so lame. There are a few moments of inspired comedy, as when Rachael Mason plays a pissed-off folksinging Latina who refuses to conform to media stereotypes. But most of the time bits that could have been very funny– like two contrasting honeymoon nights, one glorious and the other dismal–fall flat in this dismal show. –Jack Helbig