The Sickie Bunch from The [SIC] [sic] [∞] Sense: Perfectly Repulsive
The setup: For The [SIC] Sense's third show in its new home in the Basement Theatre at Phoenix Center for the Arts, the sketch comedy troupe takes a break from transitioning new cast members in and welcomes back Kristie Cowles, a one-woman ninja patrol of comic anarchy. About half of the sketches are about some kind of sex (sometimes it's hard to tell), and while that alone doesn't make the show inappropriate for children, it's promoted as containing "adult themes," and parenthood is challenging enough without explaining, any sooner than you have to, women with fake penises (let alone real ones) hanging out of their jeans or how to play Fuck, Marry, or Kill.
courtesy of The [SIC] Sense
The execution: No, screw that. Let's talk about this company's name. It's changed from Th [sic] Sense to The [SIC] Sense, perhaps to match its web address, perhaps because people were always putting the first "e" back in. It probably makes everything run much more smoothly, but a lovely phrase that used to have approximately two literal, two homonymic, and two figurative meanings in context now has one fewer.
Webster's defines [sic] as a term "used after a printed word or passage to indicate that it is intended exactly as printed or to indicate that it exactly reproduces an original." This is not one of those paragraphs that begins with "Webster's defines _____ as" because the writer couldn't think of a hook. There's now nothing before the [sic] that looks incorrect or unintentional, which makes the [sic] itself a type of mistake (which, BTW, means the [sic]s could go on forever).
The language geek in me mourns the loss of the "Th," which made it all make, ironically enough, "sense." It still sounds like both "sick" and "sixth" when you say the whole phrase, and it still succinctly tells you "very wrong, and entirely intentionally," which segues us into a review of a tight, imaginative show with fierce performances of unusually good and universally inappropriate sketches, vn though this whol orthographic nightmar mad m want to writ this post without any ""s in protst, but I lov you mor than that.
Bill Dyer has directed this edition of the 6-year-old series, as we'd been led to expect he might, and he's also onstage a couple of times, most memorably as the soulful soloist of a song parody co-written with Portia Beacham, "I Believe I Am Bi," an en fuego karaoke-backed rendition complete with power modulations and a wall-of-sound live backing chorus ("HE-IS-BI! -- HE-IS-BI!"). It's a textbook example of writing, talent, and rehearsal coming together in a jaw-dropping rush.
There's also a lovely "The Brady Bunch"-style opener that employs the stable of pimps, hustlers, and whores depicted above and even provides a cohesive framework for what follows. So many of the bits have an ending that's both funny and surprising -- the writing's really impressive this time around, with several great turns from Liz Bradley and Christopher R. Smith in particular.
Wes Hart contributed "The Alligator Sketch," which purports to be about what a crazy writer Cowles is. The display of script pages covered with giant "!!? ??! ! !!! !???" and "LOLz" along with Cowles' interjections of "Edgier!" and Bronwyn Schile's indignant demands for genre purity had me spitting and gasping.