REVIEW: Kink (Annoyance Theatre)

Kink it is-—NOT!

 

kinkposter 

Annoyance Theatre presents:

Kink

 

By Rachel Farmer, Mikala Bierma and Christina Boucher
directed by
Rebecca Sohn
Musical directed by Lisa McQueen
through March 6th (more info)

review by Paige Listerud

GREG: I’m a workin’ man, sellin’ Coke and wearin’ a thong . . .

I’m a workin’ man, wearin’ panties everyday

I’m a workin’ man—God bless the USA!

A word of advice to musical comedy creators out there: christen your show with a title like Kink and the pressure is on to deliver. Either deliver the kink–or a piercing commentary on kinkiness—or change the title. By putting “Kink” out front like that, you’ve set up your audience with expectations of being blown away, metaphorically speaking.

kinkposter The song “Sex Is Everywhere” kicks off a new musical by Mikala Beirma, Christina Boucher, and Rachel Farmer at Annoyance Theatre, directed by Rebecca Sohn. It’s almost as if they are telegraphing their dilemma. With every sexual persuasion just a mouse click away, the ubiquity of sex leaves less power to shock and titillate. The trouble is, that same ubiquity also gives sexual situations within comedy less power to shock or amuse. So where do you get your laughs from now, bitches?

Well, the creators of Kink demonstrate that you can still get them; if you’re willing to go deeper. They hit it on the head while exploring the earnest emotions of tomboy Julie Allman (Rachel Farmer), who, in the song “Acceptable Girl,” just wants to play high school girls’ basketball, not try out stupid dresses for prom. They achieve it through exploring her sister Tammy’s lofty, teenage romantic fantasies. The tune “Love Conquers All” dredges up every fucked-up, pop-culture depiction of love that Tammy (Christina Boucher) accepts as absolute truth. If a girl and a vampire . . . or a girl and a werewolf . . . or a guy and a mermaid can find true love, then so can she.

In fact, the character of Tammy Allman is pure comic gold. She hardly suspects what life’s really all about but she is ready to take the perilous plunge in “I’m getting ready for my life.” Boucher’s delivery of Tammy’s big number during half time at the homecoming basketball game, “Sweat Pants Dance,” shows utter comic commitment. By mid-show, the sound of Tammy’s voice alone had me giggling automatically.

But comedy surrounding Mom and Dad falls flat in this ultra-suburban setting. Nancy Allman (Mikala Bierma) and her husband Greg (Rachel Farmer) have desires they’ve never admitted to each other. Nancy wants to be a dominatrix and Greg loves to cross-dress. But other than the patriotic flourish with which Greg expounds on his love of ladies’ undergarments, not much comedy is generated out of their unfulfilled desires. It’s as if the creators agree with Tammy and Julie’s discussion of their parents, late at night in their bedroom:

JULIE: That’s not love. Look at Mom and Dad.

TAMMY: They fell in love at first sight!

JULIE: Yeah, and now their lives are over.

It’s clear Bierma, Farmer, and Boucher haven’t worked through all the comic ramifications of “Can This Marriage be Saved?” with Nancy and Greg. A longstanding advice feature of Ladies Home Journal, “Can This Marriage be Saved” has obviously been supplanted in the Kink universe by the overwhelming philosophical presence of Oprah and Dr. Phil, an issue address with the song, “Hallelujah, Oprah!”

As it is, the show handles sexual content bombastically and superficially, rather than getting to the center of disconnection between long-married husband and wife. As late night entertainment at Annoyance, one expects the limits on language and sexuality to be pushed and the blow-up dolls to be tossed around. But having crossed that Rubicon, it’s pushing the truth on human sexual experience that really makes for outrage.

 

Rating: ★★

 

 

Kink Credits courtesy of Annoyance Theatre website:

MIKALA BIERMA (NANCY ALLMAN, BROOKE, REGGIE, TEAM MATES, STUDENTS) is thrilled to be a part of Kink! She received her BFA in Acting from the University of Michigan. She trained in funny at Second City Conservatory, iO(Improv Olympic) and Annoyance Theater. Currently, she performs with Bad Touch every Tuesday right here at the Annoyance. She is a proud company member with Barrel of Monkeys. Mikala would like to thank her parents for being supportive no matter how inappropriate she acts, Mike for being the best baby love, Rebecca Sohn (aka the No Bone Sohn Zone) for her endless inspiration, Rachel and Christina for sharing their insane brains, Gilbert for his help punching-up the jokes, the Annoyance Family and YOU for coming to the show! Also, she has a stupid website… www.mikalabierma.com.

CHRISTINA BOUCHER (TAMMY ALLMAN, KATHY, PRINCIPAL/COACH CARPET, TEAM MATES, STUDENTS) is overjoyed to work with the talented women of Kink! She was a proud contestant in the 2009 season of Impress These Apes!. She can be seen improvising every Monday at the Playground with Bella, regularly at iO with Sears Tower, and Tuesdays at the Annoyance in Bad Touch. She would like to thank her family for their steadfast love and support, Rebecca for sharing her artistry, Mikala and Rachel for their dedication, Scott for his loving support, Tyler for all the omglolz, and The Annoyance family for making her dream come true!

RACHEL FARMER (JULIE ALLMAN, GREG ALLMAN, LINDA, STUDENTS, LARISSA) could not be more proud to be a part of this KINK-y adventure. Rachel moved from Mobile, Alabama to further her journey in comedy. She has trained at Second City, iO, and Annoyance. Rachel has improvised with Infinite Sundae’s (Music Improv House Ensemble) at Second City; written and performed in the Triple Feature Photo Booth, as well as understudied in Sodomites, Late Nite Tit-Bits and Untied – all at the Annoyance. She currently performs with Front Row at iO, Bella at the Playground, and Bad Touch on Tuesday Nights at Annoyance. Rachel would like to thank her Mama, Pops and family for all their love and support; Sue Bland for everything; Mick and Jen for the Annoyance and a very special thanks to Mikala (Baby Lips), Christina (Ol’ Lady Vertigo), and Rebecca (NoBoneSohnZone) – she loves these idiots more than she can say.

REBECCA SOHN (DIRECTOR) is thrilled to work with this group of talented and lovely women. As a member of The Annoyance since 1992 she has written, performed, improvised and/or understudied over 30 shows. Annoyance directing credits include The Perfect Wave, a full-length musical; Imaginary Friends and Photobooth for Triple Feature, the latter of which enjoyed an extended run in Short Shorts. She is an alumna of The Second City ETC where she wrote and performed 2 reviews. Acting credits include The Butcher of Baraboo at Steppenwolf; An Immigrant Class at Remy Bumppo; A Love Plot, Truly for Hypatia. Currently she writes, directs and performs for Second City Communications and teaches improv for Annoyance. You can see her in this theater Tuesday nights in Bad Touch. In February she will appear in the upcoming About Face production of What Once We Felt. She’d like to thank her husband Rich for his unwavering support.

LISA MCQUEEN (MUSICAL DIRECTOR) has been an ensemble member and Musical Director at Annoyance Theatre for 18 years, where she composed the musicals Tippi: Portrait of a Virgin, The Chiggers, President Bush is a Great Man, and The Invention Show, and many others.  She toured with Second City and most recently played two Second City shows on the beautiful island of Barbados for Holder’s Season.  She served as Musical Director for The Second City Mainstage at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam and for the Denver Center for Performing Arts production of the Second City Revue, Red Scare. Last year, she was Musical Director/Conductor for Chicago Shakespeare’s Theater re-mount of How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back? which she also premiered. Other Chicago Shakespeare Theater credits include The Second City’s Hamlet! The Musical and Romeo and Juliet! The Musical.  Regional credits include: Musical Director/African percussionist for Wild Men! starring George Wendt (Victory Gardens Theater and Off-Broadway) and Musical Director for the Fairmont Hotel Primavera Room. She earned her BA in Theater in her native town of Chattanooga, and a BA in Jazz Studies from DePaul University. She also plays piano/keys with the Jeannie Tanner Quartet and The Rolling Clones, a band dedicated to the music of the Rolling Stones.

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