The Panic Broadcast | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Panic Broadcast

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When Orson Welles's adaptation of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds was broadcast in 1938, panic ensued: many radio listeners missed the disclaimer and believed Martians really were invading. In this entertaining but uneven late-night show, writer-performers Cary Cronholm, David Petitti, Wayne Graham, and Thea Lux depict people's desperation, ill-fated heroism, and opportunism in comic and dramatic sketches using the Welles recording. Though the serious scenes lack intensity, the actors get subdued laughs whenever the script comically exploits the period, from the way that people talked to the patronizing view of women. And the show is relevant to our fear of attack and fervent embrace of heroism today. Yet under Bob Ladewig's direction the performers sometimes flub lines or react slowly, which makes the character's anxieties seem artificial. Overall The Panic Broadcast lacks a crucial sense of urgency. Through 3/4: Fri 10:30 PM. Second City, Donny's Skybox Studio, Piper's Alley, 1608 N. Wells (fourth floor), 312-337-3992. $10.

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