Sexual Perversity in Chicago

Playwright - David Mamet
Director - Harriet Usher
Venue - Gilded Balloon
Runs- 8:30pm, 13th & 16th March

Sexual Perversity in Chicago is a great title, even if it does have little to do with the actual play - a comedy about the lovelife of modern 20 somethings. The arc of a love affair is plotted with a series of snapshot scenes. There's no perversity, and Chicago's never mentioned. To make up for this, sex is mentioned constantly.

It's not clear why this piece has been included with the hard-hitting political pieces that make up the rest of the Gilded Balloon's civil:lies season. Although David Mamet (Speed the Plow, Glengarry Glen Ross) has written some compelling drama, this early work is a deeply shallow play. Stereotyped characters and short scenes make it feel more like a TV sketch show than theatre. However the pace is fast and the humour's sharp. Sexual Perversity in Chicago has nothing to say, but says it well (and - being Mamet - with lots of crude language).

Although it's not a demanding piece, it must be said that Harriet Usher's production is faultless. The frequent scene changes are handled efficiently thanks to a well thought out set. The straightforward roles provide no challenge to a competent cast. Perhaps the star of the show is Bernie, a ridiculous misogynist who spouts streams of foul-mouthed eloquence. Jonny Burr plays the part with bug-eyed fervour. Forgettable, but very funny.

Daniel Winterstein, 10th March 2002