Nerds of many stripes will feel at home entering the magical portal that is Otherworld Theatre, a Wrigleyville-based theater company that specializes in science fiction and fantasy. Fancy a butterbeer before the show? A cozy reading nook inside the TARDIS? Eclectic lobby decor ranging from classic sci-fi book covers to modern fantasy artists? This theater has you covered.
Kitties in Space: The Saga
Through 9/11: Fri 7 PM, Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, Otherworld Theatre Company, 3914 N. Clark, Chicago, 773-857-2116, otherworldtheatre.org, $20, limited number of pay-what-you-can tickets available for each performance
Its current production, Kitties in Space: The Saga by John Enright, is a wild, catnip-fueled romp through space and time. Set in a future when humans are extinct, animals with augmented intelligence—including cats, dogs, and mice—roam the galaxies, nursing interspecies vendettas and getting stoned. Through a series of nonlinear episodes, we follow the misadventures of Mittens (Mar Warner) and Socks (Belle Decker), who have been friends since their first day as cadets at the Star Cat Academy.
With the feline protagonists dressed in gray coveralls, detachable tails, furry ears, and painted-on whiskers, the production design by Tiffany Keane Schaefer (who also directs) and makeup design by Darlene Pham are reminiscent of Spaceballs, Mel Brooks’s 1987 Star Wars parody. Kitties in Space spoofs a range of franchises—not only Star Wars, but also Star Trek, Indiana Jones, and Doctor Who—with its own brand of pet-inspired puns and adult humor.
The six-person cast fully commits to the show’s most ridiculous twists and turns with hilarious results. Warner and Decker play off each other well, the former’s deadpan delivery contrasting with the latter’s frenetic energy. Ian Vytlacil stands out in several roles, including a crack-using mouse named Twitchy and Kitler, an authoritarian cat who wears a bewhiskered Darth Vader mask. Cat lovers—or anyone who has ever spoiled a pet—will feel seen by Lilly Bolduc’s and Stephanie Lee Bourgeois’s portrayal of overly enthusiastic cat moms.
This adults-only production seats only a few dozen audience members at each performance, with a handful of cocktail tables in the front row—so arrive a bit early, geek out in the lobby, grab a catnip-themed mojito, and prepare to “live nine lives and prospurrr.”