Playwright: The Company
At: GayCo at Theatre Building Chicago
Phone: 773-327-5252; $20
Runs through: July 8
By Jonathan Abarbanel
Full disclosure: Windy City Media Group is a sponsor of The DaVinci Gay Code. I wanted to jauntily write, 'but I loved the show anyway.' However, I loved only parts of it. GayCo's new vehicle isn't the unalloyed success of 2004's Weddings of Mass Destruction or 2005's holiday revue, Do You Fear What I Fear? For every minute of real comedic zest there's an equal minute of dullness, and the entire show suffers from hit-or-miss playing.
It opens smartly with the full company in a silent movie, as it were, depicting the romance and marriage of Church and State with the collusion of government and the political parties. The twist is that Church and State are gay guys who fuck first and fall in love later. It's pointed and fast ( maybe too fast ) , barely giving one time to recognize the many ideas it suggests.
Act I also scores with a two-character satire of online dating and cosmetic surgery, and a hilarious skit about the death of a decrepit cat. In the former, Andy Eninger and Jim Bennett, at their sharpest, play bionic men who compare nips, tucks, implants and enhancements and declare each other 'hot.' In the latter, a brother and sister bewail the passing of their mangy, hairless 25-year-old cat ( 'that's 150 human years' ) while the brother's BF recoils in repulsion. The cat itself is a funny hand puppet ( operated by Eninger ) .
Act II opens with excellent video animation that plays to the revue title and satirizes the paper-bag characters used by some theaters to promote ticket sales. There's also a sketch about a family vacationing at the Grand Canyon who pick up a zombie-like hitchhiker—I didn't get it but it was funny—and a sharp two-hander ( Eninger and Jamie Hoggson ) about computer file-sharing couched in the language of wham-bam unsafe sex. ( Judy Fabjance, Cynthia Francesconi and Mandy Price are the women in this production. )
But too many good ideas fall flat, because of underdeveloped writing or oddly listless direction and acting. A scene relating to the revue title, showing Jesus and Mary Magdalene in marriage therapy, isn't played to comic potential despite clever lines. Ditto for an Act II sketch between a TV host and a female senator with secrets, played without energy. A few scenes are well-done but harbor old-hat ideas, such as gay pirates singing 'Wherever You Arrrgh!' or a scene in which a gay/lesbian pair having a child must deal with their partners.
The DaVinci Gay Code was developed under a cloud when longtime GayCo director Jim Zulevic died unexpectedly in January. Company friend Lillie Frances valiantly stepped in to bring off the show, but the loss is apparent as GayCo continues to regroup. Still, this is OUR sketch comedy troupe.