Review: Huggable Riot Stages Alternate Pending, a Futuristic Game Show That Mirrors Real Life

The cast of Alternate Pending by Huggable Riot. Photo by Andrew Newton. Guest Author article by Katie Priest. Huggable Riot’s 22nd sketch revue, Alternate Pending, packs a slew of sketches into the form of a futuristic game show that mirrors real life. Debuted last weekend, the show runs just under 60 minutes. Alternate Pending opens with its six millennial cast members—Kevin Black, Kendra Jamaica, Allison Kochanski, Nick McDowell, Sarah-Jean Peters, and Hannah Starr—christening the small stage of the Blackout Cabaret with a rambunctious musical number I can only assume would be named “La Opera de Consequence.” The song is an apt introduction to the show’s themes of choice and consequence as well as a thorough examination of decisions in all regards. The show itself still seemed to be a work in progress, although many of the timing and technological issues may be ironed out after opening night. Most of the scenes raise quite a few laughs in the decently sized crowd while others fell flatter, such as the silent sketch performed mid-production by two members that featured a fleeting millennial relationship with a weighty third wheel—their cell phones. The more emotionally charged sketches play with politics and recent media; two scenes are made relatable yet perhaps overdone by witticisms about Netflix and binge-watching while another attempts to lighten the mood with irony during a scene set in the waiting room of an abortion clinic with Steve Harvey’s Family Feud playing on the television. The show turns the audience’s attention over to its own small screen near the stage during a scene on saving the bees where we learn that, alas, there are no more bees alive to be saved. Each scene provides a slightly different insight into the show’s theme of the possibility of different choices we can make in life. The diverse cast ensures a wide range of talents present; Sarah-Jean Peters showcases her dance expertise in a number of scenes and Hannah Starr provides a shocking soprano during the musical numbers as well as an enchanting 14-year-old witch character alongside Nick McDowell that shows just how important love is, even for those who may not admit they need it. The revue Alternate Pending, while a comedic performance, manages to provide the eager audience with more profound ideas and drops a number of touching one liners such as “We are all puppets,” “Tuning it out doesn’t make bad things disappear,” and, delivered at the very end of the show, “No one is alone.” Alternate Pending will run for three more Fridays at 8:30pm through April 26 at the Blackout Cabaret, located in Second City at 230 W. North Ave. Tickets are $13 in advance and day of the show and are available here. Katie Priest recently returned home to Chicago after receiving her BA in English from the University of Washington in Seattle. She is eager to pursue her long-time passions of reading and writing through the exploration and review of the arts.
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