Harvard Sailing Team
Mon Aug 13 2007
Photo: Alex Delgado
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
There are no wacky characters, silly accents or ill-fitting costumes in a Harvard Sailing Team show. The nine members—none of whom either sail or went to Harvard; most met at NYU’s Tisch—wear similarly preppy shirts, jeans and Chuck Taylors onstage, and they call each other by their real names in every scene. Nothing steals focus from their performances or ideas, which are blessedly straightforward and executed with a sophisticated simplicity.
Such a bare-bones aesthetic is the perfect backdrop for the show’s one elaborate element: choreography. Nine is an unwieldy number, but this troupe turns sketch into ballet. One scene is nothing more than guests arriving at a party; instead of shaking hands or hugging, they greet one another with the same precise, synchronized, hilariously absurd motion, which heightens to a fever pitch as the stage fills with actors. The energetic physicality is a joy to watch and the show soars during such moments.
Occasionally, scenes rely too heavily on dialogue or inside jokes. When the players parodied bad improv by performing a mock set, the person to my right whispered in her friend’s ear, “I don’t get it.” To be fair, each performance in the weekly run is peppered with brand-new scenes, a risk that audiences reward by returning and bringing friends.
Despite the rare mishap, the team’s singular vision, style and point of view have set it apart from the ever-increasing number of sketch groups currently clamoring for the New York spotlight. Harvard Sailing Team doesn’t fight for the stage; it owns it.