Sluggish stage combat is Fight Quest 4 Peace’s kryptonite | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Sluggish stage combat is Fight Quest 4 Peace’s kryptonite

Otherworld Theatre makes a lackluster debut in its new space.


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Otherworld Theatre has taken over the former Public House Theatre space in Lakeview, and the acquisition may have taken a big bite out of the operating budget because its debut production there is a continuation of the very cost-effective Fight Quest series. Fight Quest 4 Peace features an ensemble of actors improvising a superhero story based on audience suggestions from the audience; the improv forms the connective tissue between choreographed fight scenes. The design is bare-bones, and while this makes for affordable, low-stakes summer theater, it doesn’t represent the company’s heightened sci-fi/fantasy aesthetic.

The production begins with a short opening act of stand-up comedy followed by a 15-minute intermission, which is far too long and doesn’t even boost bar sales because it’s not enough time to finish a drink. The improvised scenes get some solid laughs, and the cast creates a fun, energetic atmosphere, but as a stage combat showcase, Fight Quest 4 Peace could use some significant tightening.

The best stage combat requires precision, power, and speed to convince the audience there’s an element of danger present. Fight Quest 4 Peace needs to up the tempo and put more passion behind the moves, because the slower the action, the more it looks like the actors are holding back so that they don’t accidentally hurt each other. The action sequences have sporadic moments where the fighters sell the illusion of real violence, but in general they suffer from the sluggish restraint that slows the driving force of the show.  v

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