God only knows where the proverbial husbands of the ladies of “MRS.” are, but if their short-lived affair with Thursday night’s SketchFest audience is anything to go by, those are some damn lucky gents.
Stretching the definition of “sketch” with a forty-five minute play, members Ryan Asher, Sara Gaare and Susan Glynn nevertheless present what will doubtless prove to be one of the top acts of the festival. Their piece follows the adventures of the unlucky-in-looks Princess Adelaide, whose archetypically evil Queen mother sends her on a classic, coming-of-age hero’s quest on her sixteenth birthday.
Well, perhaps not-so-classic.
With a heart as big as her unibrow (though not quite as large as her fanny pack), Princess Adelaide bids fairwell to her one and only suitor – who may or may not be imaginary – and sets off to fulfil her mother’s five-tenet mission…with a few ripped-off Disney songs to help her on her way.
Starting with Shrek in 2001, fairy-tale parodies have been a trend of the last decade, and at this point, one would think there was nothing fresh to explore – and one would be wrong. Princess Adelaide’s journey is peppered with a motley crew of characters, from a fairy godmother whose relationship problems and drug habit suggest she has enough problems managing her own life (never mind sponsoring somebody else’s), to a trio of princes who might not be so interested in damsels in distress as they would be damsels of drag.
What really makes the show pop is the unabashed enthusiasm with which the ladies throw themselves into their performances. Asher plays Princess Adelaide with a winsome naivete, and is by turns shocked and earnest when the world turns out to be both more lewd and more exciting than she ever could have imagined. Gaare and Glynn round out the rest of the characters, each more delightfully ostentatious than the last. Whether she’s playing an elderly baker, an evil queen or a flamboyant prince, Gaare has an ocular range of expression that would put Amy Poehler to shame; Glynn’s fairy godmother recalls spot-on that melodramatic high schooler we’d all love to slap, and she’s deliciously dumb as the Queen’s useless boyfriend.
The ladies of MRS. appear to have mastered the art of walking a fine line: Princess Adelaide’s story has the arc and cohesion of a one-act play, but the exciting, rough-around-the-edges attitude of sketch comedy. The girls shamelessly delve into the sexual and crude, but do so with such a clever, self-aware air that it doesn’t feel gratuitous. The touches of sentimentality are just insincere enough to never feel forced, the way some comedic performances do when they attempt to squish in the requisite dash of seriousness. Instead, the ladies rely on – to quote the show – the “wisheshopesanddreams” of their characters to deliver, well, a dream come true.
Well, as much as a dream can come true at SketchFest, anyway.
SketchFest will run through January 19th. Tickets available at www.chicagosketchfest.com.
*Note: “MRS.” is typically a quartet, with member Mary Katherine Curran temporarily out of town on a Second City gig. The ladies are looking to land a full run of their show at a local theater soon, so stay tuned and make it a stop on your Chicago visit!