by Robert Bullen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday July 10, 2009


Earth: TTFN?! considers itself a campy parody of sci-fi B-movies from the 50s and 60s, including wacky comic book action and dialogue.

The schizophrenic plot has something to do with a bunch of aliens from Planet Sildenian fighting to destroy Earth because it's "bringing down intergalactic real estate prices and driving up Sildenian taxes."

The audience gets to vote for Earth's survival.

In addition to this, writer Kim Williams (who hides behind the pseudonym "The Chronicler") has half-heartedly interjected clich?d topical references, such as potshots at Governor Blagojevich, Dr. Phil and Octomom.

The cast of nine works hard to energize the material, however, I've never been so uncomfortable for a cast in my life.

The play features several opportunities for improv. Perhaps it was the poor structure of the play, or the unfocused direction, but none of the actors seemed comfortable with the art of improvisation, and the sleepy Sunday afternoon audience wasn't much help.

Nearly begging for audience suggestions, the cast didn't know what to do when finally provided with them.

For example, one actor asked the audience, "If you could have ANYTHING in the world, what would you want in your new Earth?"

One audience member drolly replied, "Will my penis be bigger?" While the audience laughed heartily, the actor just nervously ignored the suggestion and continued on. A lost moment -- one of many.

Other improv suggestions were made fun of by the cast and quickly disregarded. I thought improvisation was about taking an idea and running with it? Guess not.

Essentially Earth:TTFN?! is an unfunny, bloated Second City sketch. I left disappointed, as I wanted to like the show -- I like camp and spoof and B-movies. However, I can't say I recommend it.

That said, Ricky Laurie's costumes and Jason Knox's sound design are very good. Also, Austin Campion makes an impression in the thankless role of Carter, the Earthling who fights for Earth's survival.

However, it seems like the hard-working Campion is fighting for much more than the fate of Earth in this highly disappointing show.

Earth: TTFN?! is playing through Aug. 9 at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave.,Chicago.

A native midwesterner, Robert is a self-confessed Chicago theatre addict. You can read more about his addiction at