Reviewed by: Joseph Hillenmeyer
The title alone should give away that “Fight Girl Battle World” is not your usual storefront theatre production, but don’t judge it by its name: you’re missing more than just a science-fiction play if you don’t visit Theatre Wit between now and June 16.
InFUSION Theatre Company is now presenting the Midwest premiere of Qui Nguyen’s science fiction comedy, “Fight Girl Battle World,” an action-packed, laughed-filled space romp that combines fast-paced fight choreography, digital effects and puppets – yes, puppets.
While the play is clearly written by someone with an inner sci-fi nerd, Nguyen’s witty script shows he’s not above lampooning some of the more tired cliches of the genre. He’s also really good it. From the consonant-filled names to the made-up synonyms for anything relating to cash, time or distance, the script wonderfully exploits the cornier aspects of nearly all sci-fi stories.
FGBW (we’re talking sci-fi now, so lets toss in some acronyms) takes us to the planet aptly named Battle World, where prize fighting is the only form of commerce and the current champ also happens to be the last female of the human race. You probably already guessed it, but she’s sexy, dangerous and dressed in a skin-tight, ripped up space punk outfit and sports a multicolored hairdo.
Our hero, E-V (Shelia O’Conner), has just removed a few eyeballs and the intestines of her opponent, a grotesque space monster many times her size (operated by a fan and some puppeteers), when she is paid an unwelcome visit by General Dan’h (Rob Grabowski).
Although responsible for the genocide of the human race, Dan’h now wishes to help E-V repopulate the human race by “breeding” her to Adon-Ra (Zach Livingston), the last human male. E-V refuses and escapes, but will wish she didn’t when she finds herself the new exhibit at an alien zoo a short time later.
Watching the plot unfold in increasingly comical ways is much of the fun of the play so if you want to know where its going, just buy a ticket. One small spoiler is that the zoo is where E-V meets the android robot LC-4 (Josh Hambrock) whose sarcastic wit steals the show. Later scenes in the play that combine LC-4 and Dan’h are some of the most hilarious as the characters share some pointless back and fourth while conducting a space walk (which looks nearly like the real thing with the stage lights turned off and a digital solar system projected onto the stage).
LC-4 also reveals that he was designed to be a playwright, which of course makes him less than the perfect droid companion for a danger filled space adventure, but such is the world of Nguyen.
And speaking of that world, it is brought to life impressively by the InFUSION team, whether using one of three projection screens, the puppeteers or the large, multi-level stage set, the props are a character all their own. Also deserving special recognition are the many on stage sorties between the characters, spaceships and alien monsters. Fast paced, acrobatic and well preformed, the choreography from David Blixt keeps the fists flying when the jokes are not. Despite the satirical nature of the play, Blixt has the cast looking like action stars and the combat scenes are anything but corny.
InFUSION’s production is directed by company artistic director Mitch Golob and runs now through June 16 on Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. General admission is $25, and student and senior tickets are available for $15. Tickets are available at infusiontheatre.com or by calling (773) 975-8150. Theatre Wit is located at 1229 W. Belmont Ave., in Chicago. For calendar information, visit TheatreInChicago.com