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Performing Arts

November 21, 2015
 

Theatre Without A Net

louisvilleimprov

Alec Volz, Brian Hinds, & Chris Anger. Photo Courtesy Louisville Improvisors.

 

The Louisville Improvisors & The Bard’s Town present: Single Shots

Various writers and directors

Review by Keith Waits

Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved

Restlessness, creativity, and ambition go hand-in-hand in this latest Louisville Improvisers presentation. The fact that there is very little improvisation present on the stage is an indicator that the group doesn’t settle for simply meeting the expectations invited by their title. That they have also welcomed others to play in their sandbox is another good sign.

The program is divided into two shows of two solo performances. Melinda Beck’s Agatha is not a new piece of material, having premiered at the 2014 Slant Culture Festival, but Ms. Beck has continued to develop and reshape her script so that the character study of a nerdy young girl with theatrical aspirations is more forcefully countered by the contrasting personality of Roxanne, a popular girl whose faux compassion underscores the very real empathy and tolerance of the title character. Agatha’s degree of confident delusion is expressed in the device employed by Beck of repeatedly vocalizing the sound of a door opening and closing with each “entrance” with a low-key but still comical “creeaak! – Ka-thunk!” It’s a direction Agatha herself would have given.

Raanan-Hershberg

Ranaan Herschberg

Ranaan Hershberg’s Crying Behind 3-D Glasses is prepared material, but the stand-up comedian’s expert delivery draws the audience in, as all good stand-up does, and relies on that interaction for its final flavor and impact. The subject is the reflective aspect of revisiting beloved cultural touchstones of youth, in particular the 3-D, 20th anniversary re-release of Jurassic Park, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and even that most sacred of cows, the Bible. Herschberg’s demeanor onstage is scabrous but self-deprecating, so that his edge is never mean-spirited, and he has good fun with the audience. Scot Atkinson directs.

Tad Chitwood’s short play, Karen, is written for Brian Hinds, an Improvisors member with an especially wry onstage presence. Not surprisingly for Mr.Chitwood, it is peculiar piece that positions Hinds as one side of a confrontation with an ex-lover. Despite the fact that this is a conversation, we never see Karen, and the audience must entertain the question of whether or not she even exists in the scene, or exists at all. How deep is the man’s delusion is something you will be pondering after you leave the theatre.

Chris Anger has presented two previous autobiographical monologues, Dead Astronauts and Jim Thorpe, All – American. With Animal Farm, he finishes a trilogy of caustic memory pieces that are highly impressionistic narratives. Although the set of material has loosely followed a linear chronology, the images and shifts in tone are what seem more important, as the Improvisors member continues to expand his stage identity. Not a traditional actor, Anger’s improv work has always carried a point-of view that reveals the person within, but this confessional troika goes even further, and is both intimate and expansive in charting Mr. Anger’s individual journey, which includes futile attempts to cope with his black sheep status through substance abuse, to a place of foundation and contentment. It never for a moment feels self-congratulatory or mawkish, but is instead stringent in its emotional expression, and all the more powerful for it. Both Karen and Animal Farm are directed by Louisville Improvisor member Alec Volz.

The Louisville Improvisors & The Bard’s Town present: Single Shots

November 20:          8:00pm – Agatha & Crying Behind 3-D Glasses
                                    10:00pm – Karen and Animal Farm

November 21:          8:00pm – Karen and Animal Farm
                                   10:00pm – Agatha & Crying Behind 3-D Glasses

Single Show Ticket – $15.00 / Full Evening Ticket – $25.00
Valid for both the 8:00pm and 10:00pm shows for the evening (all 4 shows)

Louisville Improvisors
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
502.749.5275
Thebardstown.com
Louisvilleimprov.com

 

KeithKeith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.





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