The Second City’s 108th revue, Do You Believe in Madness?, is a bright look at dark times. Under the direction of Ryan Bernier, the cast well-represents the East Coast here on the Fresh Coast with cast members Mary Catherine Curran (Maryland), Sarah Dell’Amico (Florida), Andrew Knox (Vermont), Asia Martin (DC), and Adam Schreck (Pennsylvania). Jordan Savusa is from Hawaii and shares his Ring of Fire perspective in a lovely ukulele song.
And that’s the strength of this mostly surefire show: the revelatory personal songs, under musical director Nick Gage. Savusa sings about being Samoan in the 50th state. Martin, sporting a glorious natural, advises “Don’t Touch My Hair.” Curran belts that, even though she’s been fat-shamed throughout her dating life, she “Fucks Good.”
They also sing about weed now being legal in Illinois, which should, of course, be accompanied by releasing the brown and black people who have been incarcerated for low-level cannabis convictions. A “Hee Haw” act-one closer starts listing, but comes nowhere near completing, everyone who had fled or been bounced out of the current administration.
Topics range from the sublime to the ridiculous, like finding “starter friends” IRL and a passive-aggressive dad wondering who ate his pretzels, gameshow-style. We visit non-binary first graders. Racial differences are deftly explored from Martin’s observation that “LaCroix is like spicy water” to the life-altering inequities between policing for white and black people.
There’s a poignant scene about an adult daughter taking her mom for an abortion, “Plan A,” while reminiscing about when this action “wasn’t as taboo and dangerous as it is now.” Equally hot button issue climate change is pondered too, where the hero still has a huge carbon footprint because he “eats hamburgers on airplanes.” He realizes “climates change, but people don’t.”
Impeachment is celebrated. Hopeful internet troll Ulysses S. Nascar applies to work at Facebook. Redneck Lawry wants to adapt Brexit in Florida to create “Flexit.” The only misstep is the short-form improvisation charades game near the start, which is played primarily out of scene so it slows the pace. And the Kamala Harris blackout probably, sadly, needs to be retired.
The leit-, maybe heavy-, motif is a crow, which crops up in mask form and in the manic actions that the bird and humans both make when they are trapped in the same space. Black birds are often harbingers of mean tricks, and death, apt for such a noir comedic production perched on the precipice of real-world dystopia.
The Mainstage show Do You Believe in Madness? runs at Second City, 1616 N. Wells St., Tuesdays-Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and 11pm, and Sundays at 7pm. Free improv sets, sometimes also including e.t.c. cast members, follow the Tuesday-Thursday shows, Saturday late shows, and Sunday shows.