There are two new additions to the Second City e.t.c. cast this year, and they represent opposite ends of the spectrum. Andy St. Clair comes as something of a surprise: there is nothing about his appearance—a David Duchovny-like bland handsomeness—that suggests such inspired lunacy resides within. St. Clair is the clear breakout star of “Disposable Nation, ” pushing material well beyond conventional boundaries by sheer force of stage presence and formidable acting skills. His gum chomping, air-kicking, hot-under-the-collar basketball coach is one of the best distillations of a stereotype that I’ve seen, and he does it on an empty stage without a single actor to help flesh it out. (It also happens to be the funniest bit in the show, which includes some pointed political humor and original songs.) St. Clair has the talent to make a scene work, even when it shouldn’t—his plaintive cries to prudish girlfriend Marjorie (or as he pronounces it, “Maw-jew-ween”), and his impersonation of a cloned former ruler from the Middle East (part Godzilla, part Frankenstein) tap a comedic goldmine, as does his bit as a Vegas lounge singer, a spiritual cousin to the schmaltzy riff Bill Murrary perfected on “Saturday Night Live” in the late seventies. The other new cast member is Amanda Blake Davis, an actress with pointed features and a pretty smile who radiates an overall feeling of trying too hard; her instincts are right, but the tension in her performance does little to further her cause. The men are the strongest half of this cast, and Alex Fendrich and Rob Janas do a nice job of both playing up and subverting their interchangeable, white-boy sketch comedy looks—but a thought struck me: The e.t.c. casts of old didn’t wear suits and ties; the male performers in recent times do. The costume has versatility (and is a mainstay on the mainstage), but here comes across as a subtle detail that vaguely suggests the revue is an audition for “The Daily Show,” rather than an entity that should stand on its own. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.