Review "Laika Dog in Space": Spacey Spoof Hits Turbulence

Neo-futurists presents

laika program.jpg

At 5153 N. Ashland
Written and performed by Rob Neill, Eevin Hartsough, Jill Beckman
Directed by Phil Ridarelli
Music directed by Carl Riehl
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Thru March 18th

Buy Tickets
Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, and Scooby Doo are dogs immortalized in reruns for the public's adoration.  What about the other dogs? Balto? Squeak? Trakr?  Where's their tribute for life service?  Just like ordinary two-legged heroes, unless they have a television deal, mutts are in the doghouse of obscurity.   Until now!    Neo-futurists presents their NYC counterparts touring production of LAIKA DOG IN SPACE.   A trio of NYC Neofuturists have landed in Chicago to perform the spacey spoof.   It's a day-in-the-life of astronauts as the threesome's activities are announced by a Star Trekie voiceover.  It's a string of comedic segments with jamming band accompaniment.   Interactive sketches promote audience involvement.  They cook. They sing. They game.  It's like the Sci-Fi channel programming cooking and game shows.  LAIKA DOG IN SPACE is fueled with high energy antics but hits pockets of turbulence.


From arrival, the focus goes to the dogs.  The foyer is decorated with dog-of-fame wall.  Mutt pictures and biographies build the amusement anticipation.  Doors open and a 4-member band sets the tone with vigorous choices.  Under the direction of Carl Riehl, the musicians blare a rhythmic welcome and play on.  The live orchestration was my favorite part of the show.  Part sketch comedy, part improvisation, part audience interactive, LAIKA DOG IN SPACE doesn't quite fuse into a smooth ride.   This type of show relies heavily on the right energy from the audience.  That might have been the issue with the performance I saw.  The audience, including myself, was more robotic than extraterrestrial.  Not much life in those humans!  Trying to get the blast going, Rob Neill, Eevin Hartsough, and Jill Beckman are the writers and performers of the show.  Their enthusiastic passion is undeniable.   Their enjoyment of the material is obvious.   Their sense of funny just isn't contagious.  Not quite a crash and burn, LAIKA DOG IN SPACE (for my performance) was more the tail wagging the dog? 

Three words:  These NYC Neofuturists describe their show with 'pork, curdle, manifesto.'

Three words:  Roger describes their show with 'not quite there.'  

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