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Review: Pluto Is Listening (Infusion Theatre)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat


Review: Pluto Is Listening (Infusion Theatre)
Pluto Is Listening

Written by David Parr 
Directed by Mitch Golob 
Apollo Studio Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Nov 20  |  tickets: $20   |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 
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In defense of a dwarf planet


Review: Pluto Is Listening (Infusion Theatre)


Infusion Theatre presents


Pluto Is Listening

Review by Katy Walsh 

Being labeled a *dwarf* can be hard to take.  Bullying has no earthly boundaries.  InFusion Theatre Company presents the world premiere of David Parr’s Pluto Is Listening.  Two kids are drawn into each other’s worlds.  The misfits are outsiders at school.  They dress, talk and act differently than their classmates.  And they are persecuted for it.  When the planet Pluto is being downgraded to a *dwarf planet*, they rally in its defense.  Coming to Pluto’s rescue bonds these childhood chums over a seventeen year period… not necessarily in order.  Since the avid sci-fi enthusiasts embrace wormholes, pigeons, and drugs, their relationship takes on a paranormal quality.  Pluto Is Listening is a timely fantasy based in reality… but whose?

Review: Pluto Is Listening (Infusion Theatre)
The design team, Kevin Viol (video), Dustin Pettegrew (scenic) and Heath Hays (sound) start the celestial journey upon entry.  An oversized and oddly shaped frame is the canvas for space exploration.  The stellar film footage places the audience at the helm of a spaceship.  The music is a combination of serene Discovery channel and Star Trek theme song.  It builds the ambiance to step into a parallel universe.  Playwright David Parr tells the story of best friends, Gracie and Benjamin, through a multitude of short scenes.  The scenes are out-of-order.  The audience is aided in deciphering the puzzle with projected time stamps like ‘fifteen years later‘ and ‘two years earlier.‘  The rewind shows the origin of the friends‘ common slang and tight bond.  The fast forward builds the intrigue of ‘what happened?‘  The back and forth captivates with a Sudoku quality. 

Under the direction of Mitch Golob, the two person cast energetically tackle this show.  The talented duo delve into the outer space chaos. Corrbette Pasko (Gracie) transforms back and forth from oddball kid to crazy adult.  Pasko is very Kathy Griffin-esque in her fast-talking hilarity.  Its her sedated self that provides a heart-tugging vulnerability.  When she mumbles ‘because of what happened at the eclipse,‘ my curiosity goes on red alert.  I’m so tuned in to her character that I want to shake her awake for clarification.  But I must wait for Parr to provide that linkage later in the show.  Josh Hambrock (Benjamin) contrasts Pasko’s chatty-Kathy Griffin with a simmering intensity.  Hambrock plays along with Pasko’s antics but he is disturbingly brooding beneath the surface.  In irregular scenes, he’s a commercialized spokesperson for success.  A complex Hambrook adds to the mysterious eclipse anchored incident.  The strong chemistry between Hambrook and Pasko rivals Spock and Kirk for BSBs (best space buddies)!

Playwright David Parr penned a tale perched on the edge of reality.  Parr ravels the past, present and future events into a big pile of knots.  The audience unties the mess to see what’s left.  The fascinating process is engaging.  My only speed bump was the number of scenes.  Not for the story but for the pacing. Continually dressing and undressing Hambrock and Pasko must exhaust them and tires the audience.  If Parr is listening, shaving off a few years or costume changes to tighten up the otherwise solid production.  ‘End of transmission.’  


Rating: ★★½



Pluto Is Listening continues through November 20th at Apollo Studio Theater, 2540 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sunday at 3pm.  Tickets are $20, and are available by phone (773-935-6100) or online at More information at  (Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission)

Review: Pluto Is Listening (Infusion Theatre)

All photos by Austin D. Oie 




Corrbette Pasko (Grace), Josh Hambrock (Benjamin)

behind the scenes

Mitch Golob (director); Jamie Bragg (asst. director, dramaturg); Jason Crutchfield (stage manager); Kevin Viol (video designer); Dustin Pettegrew (scenic); Jessica Carson (lighting); Heath Hays (sound); Rachel M. Sypniewski (costumes); Devyn Mares (props); Austin D. Oie (photos)

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