Not Too Fancy Productions brings this musical comedy to Chicago after
previous runs in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Written by Ben Budick, Steve
Mackes, and Dave Ogrin, Wild Women of Planet Wongo takes up two
spaces in the Chopin basement: a bar/lounge area where Wongotinis are
served and game shows are played and a standing-room-only space where the
plot plays out.
After a crash, astronauts Ric and Louie find themselves marooned on
all-female Planet Wongo, known for its population of warrior wonder women.
The men think they’re in for some sexual gratification after years of space
loneliness, but the women are secretly plotting to barbecue them at the
next Wongo Woo-au. A variety of escape antics ensue, culminating in the
discovery of a nearly fatal typo in Wongo’s holy book.
While the script is an appropriate send-up of B movies past, this
production falls short. The frequent shifting of attention between
performance spaces and downtime for bathroom breaks and drinks don’t allow
the performance energy to build; they actually foster the opposite of the
intended “immersive” experience. Additionally, the direction and cast
performances lack the vitality necessary to create the world of Wongo and
ensure the jokes get laughs. The actors’ voices are capable and their
improvised asides clever, but punchlines feel thrown away, without the
campiness necessary for a truly successful parody. The same goes for the
movement and dance numbers, which could be much bigger with even more
audience interaction. After all, people need a warm-up if they’re expected
to participate in the postshow dance party. v