Playwright: Dave Ogrin ( producer/music/lyrics ), Ben Budick ( lyrics ) and Steve Mackes ( book/lyrics )
At: the Basement Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. Tickets: $20-40; PlanetWongo.com . Runs through: July 14
The Wild Women of Planet Wongo is an immersive experience, best enjoyed with a group of enthusiastic friends and a couple of Wongotinis ( vodka, tequila, midori and lime juice ). If you get a little tipsy and accept that this is kind of a crazy Jetsons-meets-Rocky-Horror musical extravaganza right down to its antiquated gender norms, you'll have fun.
Wild Women comes from a successful run at Brooklyn's Fireproof and Parkside Lounge. Composer Dave Ogrin has hired an all-Chicago cast and crew for the run here.
You'll be standing for the performance ( although if you want to sit, they'll accommodate you ) in the Chopin Theatre's basement, where the lobby is blacklit and filled with fun science toys and tiny astronaut and army figurines. Directly in front of you is a bar serving the aforementioned Wongotinis. If you drink and are not driving, go ahead and partake. The best moments of this show come when you're loose enough to put yourself in the midst of the action. This is not hard to do as the play moves through and around the crowd, with stage hands and cast members shuffling us around the area.
Upon arriving, you may be asked if you want to participate in a game show. I figured I was here for the experience and decided to take part. This slipped my mind as the play got underway, the audience following the goofy and dramatic male astronauts who broke into song and dance after crashing on Planet Wongo. There are varying vocal talents among the cast for sure, but standouts include Freya Falkenstein ( Croquette ), and Michael Hayden Sprenger ( Ric ).
At first, the Wild Women seem to live up to their sex-crazed reputation. Eventually, you'll realize their motives are not what they seem. What these wild women really want? Man-slaves. During one of the breaks they called my name as a Wongette-in-training and invited me to come up and learn how to beat a man-slave. He was clearly out of it, and the Gameshow Wongette ( Sissy Anne Quaranta ) said that was not her preference because consent is what gets her going. Cool of them to say, but it made me feel a little weird, since he never awakened.
The game-show bit is fun. I won a man-slave ( a very nice and enthusiastic audience member who even joined a dance number at one point ). Audience engagement really makes this show. That said, I had issues with the messaging: Wild Women's Book of Wongo suggests consummating with rather than consuming your mate, and that men might be equal to women.
Still, the performers are working working their Wongas off to give you a good time. I'd recommend going at the start of a night out with a big group of friends.