Plan 9 From Outer Space | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Plan 9 From Outer Space


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Plan 9 From Outer Space

Though I loved this theatrical version of Ed Wood's gloriously bad film when it first opened last March at National Pastime, I wasn't sure the high-spirited, mildly campy comedy would be as good at another space. I needn't have worried. After a two-month hiatus, Kelly Anchors and Mike McKune's ensemble are tighter, stronger, and funnier on Famous Door's stage than they were opening night on National Pastime's eccentric, split-level space. Adam Katz, for example, fine enough as the underplaying narrator four months ago, now reads his lines with a wonderfully dry, laconic authority. Likewise Ethan Smeltzer, Avril O'Brien, and Steve Hickson--amusing opening night as the trio of dorky aliens whose dull-witted plan for taking over the world sets the whole cracked plot in motion--now perform with pitch-perfect timing that turns even small gestures into hilarious comic moments. That speaks volumes about Anchors and McKune's abilities as both directors and stage adapters. Enhanced with scenes lifted from the rest of Wood's awful oeuvre, the rich, multilayered stage adaptation is packed with enough sly jokes about Wood's filmmaking style--bizarre editing techniques, cardboard sets, word-salad dialogue, and grade-Z performances--that it stands up to multiple viewings, something that couldn't be said of the film itself. Famous Door Theatre, 3212 N. Broadway, 409-3925. Through August 10: Fridays and Saturdays, 10:30 PM.

--Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of two actors in Plan 9.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →