It has the makings of an interesting and substantial sketch: a self-described parody of a Harlequin Romance novel set in Pecos, Texas, with a PTSD-inflicted leading man suffering from unpredictable war flashbacks (usually in the midst of sexually charged moments), and comic relief in the form of a dead horse stuck in a tool shed. But the first weekend into its run, the show is more awkward than satirical, dragging through a long ninety minutes, which does get tighter as the evening goes on. Acting is inconsistent, with seemingly improvised screaming and long silences breaking up otherwise well-timed wooing and fighting. Director Karisa Bruin has a great eye for theatrical cliche (and makes smart use of lights and sound to signify flashbacks and magnetic romantic attraction), but the show revels in each farcical moment a bit too long—it feels like a workshop with a great amount of potential in need of heavy editing, especially cheap laughs in the form of simulated sex and nipple jokes. (Monica Westin)
At Chemically Imbalanced, 1420 W. Irving Park, (800)838-3006. Through October 3.