Chicago Theatre Review
Vengeance wears a Mullet
Street Justice: Condition Red
Or: Vengeance wheres a Mullet
Imagine every trope you can think of from 80’s action movies. brutal, bruce lee inspired hand to hand combat, car-fu, double crossing East German agents, slow motion explosions, bazookas, dastardly english criminal masterminds with a penchant for sword play, and fire forged friends. Now dip all of these in a nice carmel drizzle of mysgoanist and sexual satire (at least we hope it’s satire, please let it be satire) and you have a good slice of Street Justice: Condition Red.
Chicago in the mid 80’s: Prim and by-the-book police officer Brad Truman (Colin Milroy) gets paired with hyper-violent and emotionally volatile cop Wade Dalton (Anthony Tournis) in order to teach the former about decisiveness and the latter about discipline. Though initially neither can stand the other in the slightest both are drawn personally into a murder case when the prime witness turns out to be Brad’s sister, Juliet (Lauren Bourke). With the help of aspiring detectives Danielle Dugan and Karen McLaren (Mandy Walsh and Laura Korn), whose natural talents are continually thwarted by the patriarchal CPD and their carnal-minded co-workers, Trumen and Dalton begin to trace the isolated murder to a nest of vipers. Now it’s up to them to stop the lecherous stazi-dominatrix/spy Ursela von Hodenesser (Sara Gorsky) and the suave and supremely evil Mr. Blade (Chris Walsh) before they not only take over the city but imperil the very nation.
I’m sure Street Justice would be a fun romp through high spirited violence and nostalgia if it were handled just a little more attention were payed to its presentation. It is harder to make comedy than to make drama, because you can’t just depend upon the material to speak for itself: you have to lead it out and show us its tricks yourself. Milroy and Tournis, who also penned the script together, have made a good send up of 80’s action, with a twisty plot and some solid story development but, contrary to popular belief, explicit anatomical humor, underlining feminine stereotypes, and long running gags about Rape Comas produce uncomfortable shifting and not gales of laughter. Director Mike Ooi also has knitted some wonderful action sequences but has neglected to police and tighten them for qualities sake. Let it be written: if, when driving an imaginary car at high speeds, the driver makes a swerving motion, the passengers must swerve in concordance with the direction the driver is swerving.
Sloppy mistakes aside the cast is obviously having a good time with this one. Milroy and Tournis take their archetypal characters up to eleven, with Milroy doing a very credible shock and terror expression when ever venturing into his dark and troubled past and Tournis taking on the voice of a young Keanu Rives and the gumption of an old Sylvester Stallone. Walsh and Korn outstrip them slightly in being able to switch between serious professionals facing a serious problem and trigger happy babes with blades. As is best fitting for an action film, the Villains capture our imaginations more than the heros: Gorsky has a blast investing von Hdenesser’s every movement with a provocative slink, from her maniacal laughing sessions to choke-holding someone between shin and thigh (she also gets to wield a pistol-cross bow, which is a definite bonus for any actor). For his part Chris Walsh takes a leaf from his wife’s book by playing over the top characters with as much earnestness as possible. Mr. Blade’s English charm is never too cheesy nor too sympathetic, but just menacing enough, and his skills with a Rapier provide the most thrilling stage violence in show packed with knives, gunshots and good ol’ straight-lefts.
Somewhat Recommended by Ben Kemper
Warning: Contains brief nudity, mature content, and shameless mullets.
Prop Thtr, 3502 W. Elston Ave
November 8- December 14
Tickets available at www.factorytheater.com
For more information go to www.theaterinchicago.com.