Their premise is not half bad: a “still relatively new” (as they describe themselves) theater company uses a fictional 125th-anniversary “jubilee” to bring together a collection of short sketches, some drawn from previous shows, some original to this one. Unfortunately, most of the comedy sketches, created by Sid Feldman and directed by Wm Bullion, are not particularly funny. And the performances are so rough and broadly performed that the little comedy in the material gets lost in the noise.
The IneptidemicThrough 11/19: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM, Otherworld Theatre, 3914 N. Clark, conspirewithus.org, $25 ($15 students/seniors)
The noise, though, is the point. You see, the Conspirators set as their mission to perform in the loud, broad, way, way over the top “neo-commedia” style concocted 30 years ago by, among others, the folks at the late, lamented (by some) New Crime Productions. As part of the style, the actors wear garish, aggressively nonnaturalist gray-and-white makeup reminiscent of pre-WWII German cabaret theater, and all of their movements are accompanied, Kabuki-style, by a live percussionist.
This unusual, highly artificial aesthetic only works with material written specifically for this restricted style—the New Criminals tried it with a stage adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and sank like a stone—and demands a lot more from actors than this particular show’s cast can deliver. A couple of sketches really shine here—in particular a vicious little satire slashing at former President Trump just soars. But most of the time, the material—and the audience—is not well served by the show’s performance style.