Sucker, at Second City, Donny’s Skybox Studio. Constructed as a series of overlapping vignettes, Pat McKenna’s giddy, absurd one-man comedy Sucker intertwines the lives of a dozen characters passing their last days on earth, threatened by a gigantic black hole. But rather than feeding our premillennial anxieties with ghastly visions of havoc-wreaking asteroids, volcanoes, and earthquakes, McKenna finds comedy in the pettiness and shallowness of human interactions.
Many of the script’s transitions are rough, and attempts to integrate prerecorded video footage aren’t always successful. But director John Hildreth wisely minimizes the production’s technical side and keeps the staging economical, putting the onus on McKenna to carry the show. A skilled quick-change artist, McKenna also occasionally takes on both sides of a rapid-fire dialogue.
He trips over accents at times, however, and his decidedly cerebral brand of humor sometimes threatens to sail over audience members’ heads. But he never fails to commit to each of his roles, which enhances the appeal of his characters–including a shell-shocked 7-Eleven clerk, an aging southern belle, and a neurotic astronaut with abnormally large hands. Even at their most cartoonish, McKenna’s characters and their struggles and mishaps are poignant and vivid.