When the “dream freaks” descended from space last night at 1616 N. Wells St, the obscure opening seemed to place the audience in that state of confusion and discomfort reminiscent of watching Tim and Eric Awesome Show for the first time. Sober. Luckily, upon landing, the show became much more down to earth, and the next two hours were filled with a series of well-timed sketches and quick-witted punch lines delivered by an especially talented cast.
Too often in sketch comedy, a fantastic premise is taken to an extreme level and the hilarious first moments are undermined by several extra minutes of unnecessary material. Dream Freaks Fall from Space not only avoids this pitfall but leaps into another dimension of clever crafting, balancing longer sketches with improv comedy, ‘blackout’ sketches with quick punch lines, and musical numbers.
Of course, the material is only as good as the cast, and this is probably the best ensemble I’ve seen at Second City. In her second mainstage revue, Kelsey Kinney, a face contortionist on par with the hilarious Rachel Dratch, shows off her incredible range with a variety of characters, though she is followed closely by the dynamic Tien Tran (whose solo number was my favorite of the show). Tyler Davis and Nate Varrone add musical talents to their already impressive repertoire, and Ryan Asher and Jeffrey Murdoch take the lead and excel on embodying the most awkward characters. The versatility of each individual and the complete lack of a go-to “straight man” (as the person who plays all the serious characters is typically known), though, is what truly makes this group stand out.
It’s not the riskiest sketch show I’ve ever seen, nor does it offer the most interesting or unique premise. But it’s absolutely a show worth seeing, if only to marvel at the talent of these “dream freaks.”
Review by Emily Schmidt
Dream Freaks Fall From Space plays Tuesday-Sunday at 1616 N. Wells St. More info here.
The Hawk Chicago is included in TheatreInChicago's Review Round-Up.