BWW Reviews: BREAKING BECKETT Will Forever Change How You Think About Improv

One of the main functions of theatre is to make an audience think. In this regard, BREAKING BECKETT, now playing at The Institution Theater, succeeds. I will probably be thinking about this piece for some time to come. Be aware that there is NO intention to be funny here. Leave your preconceived notions about improvisation at the door.

BREAKING BECKETT, produced and directed by Bob Olmstead, is an improv piece that is inspired by four Samuel Beckett plays: QUAD 1, QUAD 2, PLAY and NOT,I. It is not a direct adaptation; but rather, an inspiration for an evening that is unscripted. While the play structure and the mechanics were rehearsed the music, narration and story telling is completely improvised. Olmstead serves as the narrator and Content Love Knowles provides an impressive score for the work of the three main performers: Marc Majcher, Jayme Ramsey and Ryan Hill. The core of the show is taken directly from a Beckett quote, 'I pause to record that I feel in extraordinary form.'

BREAKING BECKETT has changed, for me, how I see improv and what improv has the power to do. The evening examines some of the darkest moments of human existence all set to the absurdist work of Samuel Beckett. While the actors were faithful to the choreography of the pieces they created their own improvised story-lines. The result is a unique exploration of human experience that only the audience at one particular performance will ever get to see. The night I saw the piece, it was quite dark indeed; however, not without humorous moments. In particular, I loved the description of Mister Rodgers as 'an emotional support attention whore.'

The evening, as a whole, is like a piece of jazz... and the musical improvisational work done by Content Love Knowles is exceptional.

The Institution Theater is a fully operational school on Improvisation, Sketch Writing, and Comedic Acting located at 3708 Woodbury Drive. If BREAKING BECKETT is an example of what is going on here, this is a company to keep an eye on.

BREAKING BECKETT runs at The Institution Theatre (3708 Woodbury Drive) Fridays at 10 PM through July 25th. Running Time approximately 90 minutes (no intermission). Direction by Bob Olmstead. Tickets are $10. For tickets, visit More info available at

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From This Author Frank Benge