Halloween-Themed Sketch Comedy “Netflix and Kill” Inconsistent But Entertaining

Theater troupe “26” is known for presenting shows comprised of twenty-six sketches, one for each letter of the alphabet. The scenes are minimally staged, with quick and often amusing changes aided by music and campy voiceovers. “Netflix and Kill,” running at Pride Arts Center in Rogers Park until the 28th, has fun with horror tropes in sketches written by Susan Messing, David Cerda, Rachael Mason, Derek Van Barham and Robert Bouwman, among others.

The cast’s considerable talent for physical comedy saves humor that occasionally falls flat. (One of the funniest and most charming sketches is “I for Isolation,” in which an actor in a ghost costume attempts to hula hoop.) The actors first appear in masks depicting horror icons such as Freddie Krueger, Pennywise the clown and Hannibal Lecter. In “H for Hannibal Lecter,” a grub hub delivery girl is summoned to and narrowly escapes from Hannibal’s apartment. The actor playing Hannibal delivered a masterfully funny performance soured only by an unfunny and misogynist line.

I laughed the hardest at “O for Oprah,” in which an enraged Oprah, who turns out to have sinister magical powers capable of moving others’ bodies against their wills, vents her anger at not having won her Oscar and Emmy nominations upon her unsuspecting and worshipful audience. But the skit in which one actor puts ketchup on a hot dog while another actor looks on, horrified, was the favorite of this Chicago crowd.

Because many of the sketches are convoluted and somewhat awkward, I can’t give “Netflix and Kill” a solid recommendation, despite the commitment and strength of the players themselves. This show is worth seeing (and also BYOB!) but not worth prioritizing.

Jason Rusch

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