Chaos is the nature of the universe

Edgar Blackmon and Ross Bryant after performing their "Struggle Rap." /Photo by Clayton Hauck for Second City
Edgar Blackmon and Ross Bryant after performing their “Struggle Rap.” Photo by Clayton Hauck for Second City

VIENNA, 1918 – A young woman arrives late to her music lesson and is immediately scolded by her cantankerous music teacher, who she secretly loves. As he lectures her on the importance of being punctual, she slowly removes her broken violin from its case in preparation for the lesson.

Blind, the music teacher doesn’t know her instrument is ruined until she attempts to play. He quickly catches on, and also begins to see that she is in love with him. “He’s like my salami – a mystery inside,” she sings sweetly, drawing the bow delicately across the violin’s severed strings. “Play on, my love!” he belts out, revealing his mutual affection.

The Second City’s 101st Revue, “Let Them Eat Chaos,” is filled with humorous yet unexpectedly sentimental sketches like these. Played by Ross Bryant and Nicole C. Hastings (filling the roles normally played by Holly Laurent), the Austrian teacher and student are just one odd couple among many used to illustrate the show’s running theme, “you’re always someone to someone.”

“Let Them Eat Chaos” opens with the entire cast – Bryant, Hastings, Edgar Blackmon, Steve Waltien, Niccole Thurman (in the role normally performed by Tawny Newsome) and Chelsea Devantez (her role is normally played by Katie Rich) – appearing onstage and taking a suggestion from the audience. An audience member shouts “turtle,” and the ensemble immediately begins to improvise scenes revolving around the word. From this point on, the actors segue seamlessly from one sketch to another.

Each sketch is hilarious, satirizing topics including sex, politics, racial stereotypes and commentary on a technology-obsessed society. In one scene, Devantez wanders around the stage with an imaginary phone in her hand. She can’t stop texting and is oblivious to major life events, even giving birth while on her phone. In a musical number, the group sings about the National Rifle Association and increased gun-ownership, comparing it to having poisonous chemicals in the home. “More guns stop violence,” they harmonize.

Cast of "Let Them Eat Chaos." (Devantez, Hastings and Thurman not shown). Photo by Clayton Hauck for Second City
Cast of “Let Them Eat Chaos.” (Devantez, Hastings and Thurman not shown). Photo by Clayton Hauck for Second City

Blackmon and Bryant perform in one of the funniest sketches, the “struggle rap.” With an aggressive, agitated delivery, Blackmon raps about violence in Chicago and the need for education reform. Bryant, in his hipster skinny pants and thick-rimmed glasses, raps about his condo association woes and laments the loss of his favorite Pinkberry yogurt flavor. “What happened to my freedom of peach?” he asks, dead serious.

Directed by Matt Hovde, “Let Them Eat Chaos” plays on The Second City mainstage. The show runs about two hours long with intermission. A bonus third act features an improvisation-only section, and the comedians let their individual personalities shine here. The ensemble members have great chemistry, finishing each other’s sentences and playing off one another throughout the production.

Thoroughly entertaining and funny, “Let Them Eat Chaos” is more than a comedy show. The witty commentary on society and relationships elevates the production to a higher level, and any audience member – regardless of age, race or gender – should relate to at least one of the sketches on a personal level.

In one sketch, Panamanian poet Richardo speaks to his daughter, Verde Roja. “To clean is to make order out of chaos,” he says. “Chaos is the nature of the universe,” Verde replies. Verde’s words may be true, but “Let Them Eat Chaos” is a balanced production, connecting all the dots in the end.

Additional cast and crew information: Craig Taylor (Stage Manager) and Julie B. Nichols (Music direction, original incidental music, sound design)

Show times and prices:

Tuesday – Thursday 8 p.m. – $23
Friday and Saturday – 8 p.m. & 11p.m. – $28
Sunday – 7 p.m. – $23

Tickets for “Let Them Eat Chaos” are available here or by phone at 312-337-3992.

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