With a title like “Immaculate Deception, ” you know Second City e.t.c.’s 28th revue will tweak a religious nerve here and there. But true to form, the troupe sidesteps the kind of controversial material that might really set the night on fire. Four-letter words and warmed-over racial stereotypes will have to suffice if you’re looking for anything remotely out-of-bounds—or even surprisingly clever. To be fair, the Second City philosophy isn’t really about pushing the limits of acceptable comedy; year-in, year-out, the troupe gives budding talents an opportunity to refine their chops within a relatively predictable structure, and if you, the audience, happen to find that funny, all the better. (There are, occasionally, gems—that’s why we keep coming back.) The current ensemble of mostly new faces is solid, if forgettable; Ithamar Enriquez is the one returning vet, and his subtle confidence helps give some shape to an otherwise formless evening. Other cast members have yet to tap into their potential; Alex Fendrich has a perfectly generic all-American appearance that works best when he uses it to subversive effect, and Niki Lindgren has a very sharp intensity that manages to be both scary and funny when she plays a didactic owner of a Chinese restaurant. What director Jim Carlson needs to work on most is pacing; there are considerable dead spots in this show. A few bits, however, do have some punch. A song-and-dance routine has a trio of war vets perpetrating a drink-swilling Rat Pack routine; one man’s Fantasy Football obsession is likened to Dungeons and Dragons for jocks; and an engaged couple goes nuts with the scanner gun as they pick out items for their wedding gift registry: “It’s a socially acceptable way of getting a lot of shit!” This show, it turns out, is a socially acceptable way of laughing at a lot of shit. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.