BWW Review: GET THEE TO THE IMPROVISED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY at The John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts
There are just a few seats left for The Improvised Shakespeare Company's last few performances during its limited run at The Kennedy Center, and you're going to want to buy a ticket. A group of five outrageously talented performers takes one audience suggestion for the title of a play that is yet to be written and transforms it into a riotous, 90-minute Shakespearean masterpiece before your eyes. If your experience is anything like mine, you will enter the theatre contemplative and work-weary and leave smiling ear to ear, sharing knowing looks with other theatre-goers as if to say "did we all really just witness that?!" If this sounds effusive, it's meant to. The Improvised Shakespeare Company is an experience not to be missed.
Every night The Improvised Shakespeare Company takes the stage they create an entirely new, entirely improvised play. On Thursday night, we were treated to the one-night-only opening and closing performance of The Heroic Pizza Guy. The five players deftly wound their way through pizza puns, extended metaphors, rhythmic soliloquies, and surprisingly good dance battles all the while demonstrating their mastery of Shakespeare's works, language, tropes and themes. The ensemble made up of Joey Bland, Ross Bryant, Brendan Dowling, Blaine Swen (also creator and director of The Improvised Shakespeare Company), and Steve Waltien couldn't be stronger. If you've ever thought of improv as somehow separate or distinct from art, these five artists will set you straight.
The audience on Thursday night was eager and enthusiastic. We laughed- of course-but we also gasped, cheered, sighed, and got a little (dare I say it) rowdy in our enthusiasm. When the corpses all lay on the floor (The Heroic Pizza Guy was a tragedy-who knew!) we instinctively rose to our feet.
The Improvised Shakespeare Company is one of the most critically acclaimed improv troupes in the country and has been performing to sold out audiences since 2005, and its no wonder. This show could tour for 100 years and I would still show up to watch these artists riff off Shakespeare with their world class improv skills and biting wit.
The Improvised Shakespeare Company runs Tuesday, October 1 through Sunday, October 6. For tickets, visit https://www.kennedy-center.org/calendar/event/XUCCI (and hurry!)
Running Time: Approx. 1-¼ hours
Photo credit: The artists