One of the best shows of 2007—is it too early to say that?—might just be this little play about broads, booze and boneheaded moments. Technically it was first staged last summer, so forget the 2007 hyperbole. Just go and see this show, starring longtime Chicago performers Paula Killen (now based in L.A.) and Karol Kent playing versions of themselves—in a car, with a drunken Kent at the wheel—for a good old-fashioned gal-pal bonding session. There’s something very “Absolutely Fabulous” about their pairing, they way they stare down the early twinges of middle age with a drink and cigarette in hand. (Director Susan Messing plays herself, passed out in the back seat.) On the stereo, Dolly Parton sings a cover version of “Stairway to Heaven.” Killen whips out a purse that used to belong to Cameron Diaz: “I know her assistant, and she stole it from one of her swag bags.” Kent pauses to announce between tokes on her one-hitter that the coconut-scented car freshener mixed with the odor of pot makes it smell “sort of like Jamaica in here.” Also: “A pristine car is a dick magnet.” Kent brings to mind a female version of Jim Belushi; I’m no fan of the guy, but the persona seems to work a lot better in the hands of Kent. She’s actually quite vulnerable, sitting there in her purple cowboy boots, lamenting her recent one-night stand at the Hyatt hotel. Killen is the earthier of the two—with her big lips and big features and big gestures. Her bit about making out with a crack addict is priceless; so is her demonstration of “swiping your boobs along [the backs of men] as you make your way” through a crowd. (She smooshes through the audience for this one, swiping a lucky few in the process.) The show has a lot of heart buried beneath the wisecracks about Grand Ams and dating younger men, and frankly if that’s not a good way to start the year, I don’t know what is. (Nina Metz)
“Sweet Ride” plays at the The Annoyance Theatre, 4840 North Broadway, (773)561-4665.