Have you ever wanted to puke from your eyeballs? It takes a lot to bore me. It takes even more to shock me. As I type this, the second half a play so offensive and boring and horrible that we walked – no, stalked out of rages on at a tiny theater in a quaint North Shore town known for its demure residents and idyllic lifestyle. The play we walked out on was Coed Prison Sluts from The Annoyance at “the Mette” in Wilmette. It sounds like it’s going to be good, right? A little edgy? It’s one of those things that’s been around for years you just never got around to seeing because you figured you always could.
Allow me to set the scene by first telling you I have lived in the city ten years and once attended a live sex show in Amsterdam. I have tattoos. I’ve been to jail*. I’m not exactly a delicate suburban flower who can’t handle a four-letter word. But this play? It was only four-letter words, a vulgar display of depravity with no redeeming wit. The only explanation for a script laced with phrases like, “my syphyllis got so bad I came maggots” and “can’t I just chin fuck you?” is that maybe Coed Prison Sluts is some calculated inside joke meant to stir the residents of this staid town. Did they make it worse for Wilmette? I’ve got news, Coed Prison Sluts, I got too big for a small town years ago and I’ve seen enough theater to call bullshit. Or maybe it was a prank? Were we just Punked? No way live theater in Chicago(land) can really be this bad, right?
The first problem is the all-white, seemingly privileged cast portrays a group of inmates in a modern-day prison and the script mocks every stereotype with tone-deaf offense. There are campy, graphic descriptions of incest. There are bizarre, flat embraces of smearing feces and so many one-dimensional anal sex and rape jokes I actually entered that weird late-night mind place where things that are so unfunny seem funny and then go back to being unfunny, like when you’re at a funeral and you start laughing, but in this case, you skip right over the part where you will yourself to think of dead puppies and leap right into ennui. My confusion in feeling that is it lends depth to a surprisingly empty work. Coed Prison Sluts is bad, people. And I liked Burlesque.
We were not alone in our disgust and boredom. Niko and I gave a mutual nod that said, “car, now” as the lights dimmed after the first act and other patrons leapt from their seats with us. No one could seem get to the exits fast enough. A guy (maybe operating the lights?) said, “oh I love all these people just leaving!” like it was an outrage. Like it was a mystery as to why.
A fellow disgruntled theater-goer fired back a hearty, “FUCK YOU!” and moments later cars sped off into the suburban night. This audience wasn’t down with jokes at the expense of mentally ill children, especially easy, low-hanging fruit jokes that make your eyes yawn. Where was the wit? Where was the insight? I would have even settled for a double-entendre. Nothing! Just a laundry list of insults and profanity, like The Aristocrats, the musical.
The Wilmette Theater is usually known for its Hollywood blockbusters and niche art films, so this disaster was quite a surprise. I felt like I took a gamble at a seedy art theater in a bad neighborhood, which, by the way, I have done many times and never saw a production as cheap as this. On the upside, the suburbs are turning out to feel just like the city with more parking spaces.
You should move there so we can be friends. Just don’t see this play.
*For three hours on a traffic violation when I was 20. It’s my go-to party story.
Filed under: Field Trips