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Taken Seriously

Two Kates take separate paths to laughs in UCB shows, one nuanced, the other broader.

Pictured: Kate McKinnon; Katie Schorr.

Paired with Kate McKinnon’s “Disenchanted” at the UCB Theatre on May 30, Katie Schorr’s own one-woman show, “Take Me. Seriously.” contrasts sharply with the more satiric tone of the former show.

Unlike “Disenchanted,” which is a broad satire of fairy tales that imagines some of those characters a few decades after the times of their stories and generally more desparate, “Take Me. Seriously” presents four characters that are all pretty similar -- high-school age girls consciously striving for romance and sex for the first time.

Schorr’s characters include, most notably, Chelsea Nelson, a Scorsese-obsessed film student who tries to break into the director’s house to give him her screenplay and gets caught up by a security system and guard dog, all while filling the audience in on her crush on Herschel, her prom date. Schorr also portrays an unhinged dry cleaner counter clerk who comes on to a customer, a captain of the cheerleading team who might be pregnant by the football team’s quarterback, and most successfully, a lesbian folksinger in the school’s cafeteria talent hour who is getting mercilessly heckled by classmates.

Through all these portrayals, Schorr brings out little personality tics that make them both recognizable and unique all at the same time. The cheerleader gives an aside that she’s “thinking about making [her] mom’s mistakes all over again.” The dry cleaning clerk makes a point of telling the customer that tomorrow she’ll be old enough to vote. And as “Sereta,” the folkie, Schorr delivers deliberately bad songs that come off as unintentionally funny in just the right way.

“Take Me. Seriously,” with its title alluding to the mindset of Schorr’s characters may not quite reach the over-the-top heights of “Disenchanted,” but it shows her comedic acting potential in a way not previously seen in some of her other stage and video work with UCB.

McKinnon’s “Disenchanted,” on the other hand, proves itself a must-see, with only one dud piece out of seven different fairy tale or children’s story characters in unflattering later years. Among the updated tales -- Pippi Longstocking, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Snow White and Oz’s Wicked Witch. In McKinnon’s take, Riding Hood becomes a foul mouthed tyke winging donuts hard at a friend, and Peter Pan, for one, becomes a 47-year-old shut-in being taunted or frustrated by old associates in a series of voice mail messages (like Captain Hook, Tinkerbell and Wendy).

McKinnon’s stretches of Snow White into a pill-popping overeater talking endlessly to the bird we remember from the movie, and of Alice from Wonderland into a lounge singer compelled to sing about her journeys there decades later, are both plausible and outlandish enough to pay off in the show. The only characterization that drags in the slightest is Rapunzel as a self-absorbed Valley Girl type.

“Take Me. Seriously.” returns to the UCB Theatre 8 p.m. Thursdays June 5 and 19, and “Disenchanted” returns 9:30 p.m. Mondays June 2 and 23. 



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