Chicago Theatre Review
Campy Country and Whimsical Twang: ‘The Doyle and Debbie Show’
By Devlyn Camp
Jokes are at their funniest when they are based on absolute fact. When a Saturday Night Live player gets the laugh, they nailed the politician impression perfectly. If a Sedaris story tickles you, it’s because it’s true. The Doyle and Debbie Show gets it just right in their spoof of a washed-up country music duo because, well, they know how to be a washed-up country duo. The night is Doyle’s big comeback on the stage with his third replacement Debbie in a Nashville “concert.” They greet the fantastically over decorated Royal George Theatre cabaret audience and put on sixteen of the “old” Doyle and Debbie’s big hits. The cabaret is plastered in vintage Patsy Cline posters and autographed country stars’ photos. Complete with a bar, old Christmas lights and neon beer signs, the hazy tavern setting is perfect for the extremely talented actors to showcase these outrageous characters.
Bruce Arntson and Jenny Littleton, in the title roles, deliver punch lines quick and often, making jabs at each other constantly without the other noticing. The between-song dialogue, in which the two tell short anecdotes, is brilliant. Their tales poke at the extreme Christian, profoundly pro-American aspects most people relate with the CMT crowd. At points, this laugh-til-you-cry dialogue actually beats out the music. But the music is great, and the lyrics are incredibly funny. They have every cowboy cliché America loves to tease and tickling sad mid-song monologues. Not to say this act is mean. It’s almost an homage to the washed-up duos out there. In fact, the actors are Nashville-based performers, which makes this show feel just that much more legitimate. Although I’ve had few thrilling encounters with country myself, it’s easy to say this is one of the most fun country music experiences you’ll ever have.
Contact critic at firstname.lastname@example.org