Had “White Hot Black Comedy, ” a new play by Cate Plys and Carly Figliulo for the newly formed We’ll Show Them Theater, been no more than a formulaic yet funny “sisters are doing it for themselves” comedy in the tradition of Alan Ball’s “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” or Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias,” it might have at least succeeded as a showcase for its female ensemble and occasional witticism. Yet in lacing the play with a Quentin Tarantino-inspired subplot involving drugs, guns and a couple of half-witted hoodlums—the show is described as a cross between “Sex and the City” and “Pulp Fiction”—the co-writers of “White Hot Black Comedy” have produced something that is more interesting in theory than in execution and unsatisfactory on both levels. Featuring a core quintet of female types that every woman will recognize—from the thin one beset with body issues to the overweight one who turns out to be emotionally stronger than anyone could have predicted (except maybe the audience)—the play tackles issues of race, ethnicity and sexuality commonly found in an episode of the long-running UPN sitcom “Girlfriends” but without ever reaching that series’ humorous highs, let alone those of the iconic “Sex and the City.” And although each actress has her moments—especially Kelly Bolton as a PC lesbian and Kyle Cadotte (with her priceless facial expressions and droll delivery) as the plump one—the play amounts to little more than a series of one-liners that collectively are not funny enough to overcome a second act that brings to a dead halt the female buddy bonding for a succession of “serious” monologues before rushing headlong into its implausible and pat ending. These sisters may be doing it for themselves, but they could have used a little help from an experienced playwright. (Fabrizio O. Almeida)
Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, (312)902-1500. Fri 8pm/Sat 6:30 & 8pm/Sun 2pm. $18-$22. Through April 23.