Comedy review | Thru Aug. 10

Somebody slipped a mickey in Chick Enchilada"s pitching machine. And now, a wayward fastball has come home to roost in the forehead of the bejeweled but past-his-prime player-manager of the Red Heathens. It looks like foul play, but who would want to see Chick dead? Could it be new team owner Gloria Steinem-Brenner, whose sweeping plans for remaking the franchise begin with Chick"s dismissal? Or maybe one of the young Red Heathen players whose path to stardom has been blocked by the Chick"s refusal to remove himself from the lineup? What about Chick"s ex-wives? At last count there were a couple hundred and it looks like a few dozen are in attendance.

If anybody is going to sort through the skullduggery, it"s Chick"s replacement, Casy Steinem, who just happens to be Steinem-Brenner"s niece. Casy needs to nab a killer before the controversy derails her attempt to become the first female Manager of the Year. And she"s got to do it before the dessert course!

Shannon Fields pulls double duty, and most of the laughs, supplying both the gum-snapping moxie of Casy Steinem and the haut monde feminism of her aunt Gloria Steinem-Brenner. Fields sets a casual tone, effectively falling out of character throughout the evening to provide the pokes, prods and asides that keep this audience participation mystery churning forward.

Baseball fan Joe Strange also heeds the call of Ernie Banks and plays two: the undead rube, Chick (a man whose dying words could take a lifetime), and new team mascot Honkie the Snob. Joe gets some good laughs as Chick Enchilada, but he leaves too much of the role"s comedic potential untapped.

The rest of the lines, and the accompanying blushes, stutters, mumbles and grandstanding, come from the audience. Community theater, starring Ö the community.

As Yogi Berra once said, "If the world were perfect, it wouldn"t be."

So it is with Field of Screams at the Mystery CafÈ. The bumps in the road - whether a pre-teen who"s seen too many Marx Brothers films, or a theater reviewer who watched his cue sail right past him Ö twice - are what make the ride fun.

Playing Saturdays at 7:30 through Aug. 10 at the Milano Inn, 231 S. College Ave. Tickets are $38 and include a four-course meal. Call 684-0668 for reservations.

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