Fight Girl Battle World
‘Kill Bill’ meets ‘Battlestar Galactica’ meets ‘Space Balls’
|Infusion Theatre presents|
|Fight Girl Battle World|
Review by Katy Walsh
Worlds collide in this intergalactic match-up. Humans vs aliens. E-V vs Adon-Ra. Comedy vs action. Puppets vs actors. The sci-fi spoof is a tribute to humanity. Playwright Qui Nguyen penned the futuristic story of the extinction of the human race. His clever satire tries to hook-up the last two humans in the galaxy; the streetfighter E-V and the trained warrior Adon-Ra. Nguyen creates a universe packed with intelligent and aggressive species. The space odyssey plunges us into this expansive, unknown territory. The dialogue is riddled with snark and jargon. Fight Girl Battle World is “Kill Bill” meets “Battlestar Galactica” – with a side of “Space Balls.”
Under the direction of Mitch Golob, this show is a sci-fi geek’s wet dream. Golob combines multiple design elements to build this virtual reality. Scenic Designer Dave Ferguson constructs a bi-level spaceship and we all climb aboard. The ground level is battleground stark. The second level is a catwalk terrace with three separate screens. The angular shapes of the monitors look like something straight off the Enterprise. Projection Designers Rasean Davonte Johnson and Anna Henson use the triple backdrops to showcase space travel and planet destination. Accompanying the constellation visual, Sound Designer Stephen Ptacek cranks up the volume to give that vacuum-esque sound of a spaceship. It’s an out-of-this-world spectacle. And the trek gets even more colorful when Puppet Designer Kimberly G. Morris injects her odd, yet whimsical creatures onto the set.
The fighting is as impressive as the special effects. Fight Director David Blixt balances the physicality with humor. His well-choreographed fights have Sheila O’Connor (E-V) kicking ass on the ground and in the air. A scrappy O’Connor energetically takes on her foes. Her ferocity often takes flight as her stunts get a helping hand from the Ninja stage crew. In a particular amusing training sequence, O’Connor learns from the academy’s finest; the raging Zach Livingston (Adon-Ra) and the tough Kimberly Logan (J’an Jah).
The large ensemble works hard to deliver the comedy, the humor and the heart while killing off their enemies. In particular, Elise Mayfield (G’Bril) channels a bubbly Melissa- McCarthy-gets-spacy for her commander choice. And a hilarious Rob Grabowski (Dan’h) endears as the general with a soft spot for humanity. There are surprising touching moments in Nguyen’s ambitious orbit. They are just buried within a complex realm.
With the multitudes of story trajectories, this show is a lot to take in. Lots of characters, lots of planets, lots of alliances, lots of scenes. The multiple set-ups make scene transitions clunky. In between skirmishes, a droll Maureen Yasko (News Anchor) pops up with breaking-news moments. Although the idea is clever, the execution is one of these set-up speed bumps. It’s like stopping at red lights during a car chase. This show is about the bang-up action and the star-studded pageantry. Even though it consumes center stage, the tireless efforts can’t completely overshadow some stilted acting. Their warfare synchronization may be flawless, but their conversational exchanges sometimes are out of sync.
Still, with some tightening and trimming, Fight Girl Battle World could populate Chicago as a late night, cult classic.
Fight Girl Battle World continues through June 16th at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays 3pm. Tickets are $15-$25, and are available by phone (773-975-8150) or online through TheaterWit.org (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at InfusionTheatre.com. (Running time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)
Photos by Johnny Knight
Sheila O’Connor (E-V), Brian Barber, Rob Grabowski, Kimberly Logan, Josh Hambrock, Michael Harris, Zach Livingston, Meredith Rae Lyons, Elise Mayfield, Kai Young (ensemble), Maureen Yasko, Kevin Anderson (understudies).
behind the scenes
Mitch Golob (director), David Blixt (fight choreographer), Rasean Davonte Johnson, Anna Henson (co-video designer), Kimberly Morris (puppetry design), Dave Ferguson (set design), Charles Cooper (lighting design), Stephen Ptacek (sound design), Rachel Sypniewski (costume design), Cassy Schillo (props design), Majel Cuza (production manager), Jason Crutchfield (stage manager), Claire Tuft (casting), Johnny Knight (photos).