BWW Reviews: GROUNDLINGS DEAD OR ALIVE - Aims, Targets, and Tickles Your Funny Bone
Groundlings Dead or Alive/written by The Groundlings/directed by Holly Mandel/Groundlings Theatre/thru March 28, 2015
Groundlings Dead or Alive, Groundling's latest Friday & Saturday night show makes you howl in their successful mix of improv and scripted skits of their snapshots of some absurd and some very real life situations.
Totally talented cast of six entertain equally effective with their scripted lines (which each had a hand in writing) as in their on-the-spot improvisations. Not surprisingly, each especially shined in sketches they wrote themselves.
Matt Cook's one of many moments to grab the stage--the opening skit "Buckshot Bill" (he wrote) playing the title character. Think Clint Eastwood's "Fistful of Dollars'" loner in a poncho, but with a much different voice. Cook killed(literally and figuratively)!!!
Laird Macintosh authored "D Swayback" in which he, as Dick Swayback, converses in non sequiturs on his cellphone in a crowded doctor's waiting room. Not one of his progression of comments relate to the previous, much to the curiosity and chagrin of Swayback's fellow patients. One can only imagine what he's really talking about! Too hysterical!
Scott Beehner wrote "GF Father" taking centerstage as the nervous boyfriend meeting his potential father-in-law (Macintosh) for the very first time. The best use of nervous motormouth ever! The audience reactions easily mirrors Macintosh's WTF reactions.
Lisa Schurga has a way of stealing focus from all her talented co-stars with her sometimes subtle (sometimes purposely not) physical comedic gestures and intonations. From playing a nine-year-old in her "Disappointed" to a probably abused "Mayor's Wife" to a hip mother of a teenage boy unconsciously seducing his schoolmate in "Cool Socks," Schurga's hilariously spot-on in all her portrayals.
In Steve Little's "The Incentive," Little nails the perfect online dating candidate on a first date attempting to bed his match, played ever so defensively by Schurga.
Chris Eckert's versatility clearly delineates his various characters whether essaying a rich man's boytoy in "Pretty man," a socially inept convention participant in "Introverted," or a ghost-writing whore literally in the closet in "Mayor's Wife."
Groundlings Dead or Alive opens with Jack McCafferty's very cool video spoof of James Bond opening title sequences, backed by the smoking Groundlings Band. Howard Greene on drums and Larry Treadwell on guitar, ably led by musical director Willie Etra on keyboards totally obliterate the usual monotony of necessary set and costume changes. They cook so well, they want them to keep playing!
The Groundling troupe's always dependably efficient, effective use of costumes and wigs enhance and/or define their over-the-top characters.