The Improv Play at InFusion Theatre Company | Theater review

Randall Colburn’s new semi-scripted play about the improv scene is an appealing hybrid.
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Photograph: John W. Sisson Nick Mikula and Kevin Crispin in The Improv Play at InFusion Theatre Company
By Oliver Sava |
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Just before taking the stage with his iO team, comedian Stan (Rob Grabowski) grumbles, “God, I fuckin’ hate improv.” For many of the characters in Randall Colburn’s new mash-up of theater and improv, the comedy scene is a prison. They’re forced to settle for cruise shows and Groupon jobs to live out their dreams, but when is it time to give up and grow up?

When one of their comrades gets cast on Saturday Night Live, the comedians begin to reexamine their life choices and dedication to their craft. In creating a work that breaks down the barrier between comedy and “straight” theater, Colburn has pinpointed a struggle that will connect with any young artist.

David Ferguson designs the Storefront Theater space like a comedy club, with small tables in the audience and an open stage that director Mitch Golob uses to replicate the seamless flow of an improv show. Many of the scenes work like short sketches—so it shouldn’t be too hard to cut about 20 minutes from the play, which begins to drag in Act II.

Both improvised and scripted, Colburn’s exhilarating play doesn’t sacrifice emotion for energy. While the 14-person ensemble is all excellent, Kevin Crispin and Lea Pascal stand out as comics in opposite places in their careers. Both performers excel at conveying the negative impact comedy has had on their relationships, further preventing them from finding comfort in each other.

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