“The Planetary Defense Force in: Crisis on Planet Earth!” provides the slimmest of sci-fi narrative trappings within which to showcase an evening of the casually costumed cast challenging select audience members. The challenge is a modified version of dodgeball. Rounds of this tournament are presented as a series of missions the Defense Force mounts against an evil cadre of interstellar schemers. Among the schemers: an affected and comically caped Brit and the timeless scourge known throughout the galaxy as an attorney. The Planetary Defense Force team members play on the side of the audience participants, and rules change as the matches roll on.
The Public House Theatre seems a galaxy away to me, even as I sit within watching what is billed as a “comedy game show.” I myself am only occasionally lightly amused; yet based solely—and by definition—on the reaction of the audience, I am compelled to describe this show as a crowd-pleaser. Indeed, I have never been among a more pleased crowd. The three enlisted audience P.D.F “recruits” are fully committed and appreciative and the folks in the seats hoot and holler. Though the delight throughout the crowd is alien to me, as an earthling dutifully reporting from the middle rows I can tell when people are having a good time. (Raymond Rehayem)
The Planetary Defense Force at The Public House Theatre, 3914 North Clark, (800)650-6449, pubhousetheatre.com. $10. Thursdays through March 27.