You can never know what to expect from an improv show – after all, every show from the same cast will, by definition, be unique, shaped by the audience and the vibe of that night. As a spectator, we just hope for a good dose of laughter. But based on their performance on November 18, ImprovBoston, performing on Thursday nights at the Rockwell Theater in Davis Square, delivers an energetic evening that manages to make at least a few members of the audience laugh, even though the show does. . not quite managed to pack a punch all along.
ImprovBoston’s six improvisation cast kicks off with a quick introduction to the concept of improv comedy before soliciting input from audiences and delving into a mix of short and long improvisation. Alongside the performers on stage, a keyboardist provides musical accompaniment and a sound and light technical team that must adapt on the fly to shape the trajectory of the show. The cast members skillfully incorporate audience suggestions and clearly have good chemistry, delving into scenes about Chuck-E-Cheese locations in volcanoes and plans to flush cats down the toilet. Goofy situational humor might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the constant momentum means there are enough styles of jokes to cover all the bases.
The cast is at its best when it comes to the musical element of the show. For starters, the keyboardist’s non-stop accompaniment during the two-hour performance is a highlight, both adapting to the changing tones of each scene and guiding the narrative changes. From time to time, the cast members have also burst into full musical numbers, featuring lyrics that match the melody on the keyboard. Even in the comedic context, all of the performers are powerful singers, and some songs – like a full musical number about cats in the sewers – presumably could have been written and practiced beforehand.
In contrast, the technical components are one of the weakest components of the experience. There seemed to be several issues with the lighting, and while they didn’t hamper the overall experience significantly, they did undermine the professionalism of the production.
Yet the casting provides polish where the technicians fail. The skill of the performers shines through with the development of comic ideas and reminders during the performance. One of the most exciting parts of an improv show is when a joke surprises audiences with an interesting take on a previous scene, and the cast of ImprovBoston creates several of those moments wearing multiple themes from the start. at the end of the show. This especially made the second half of the performance memorable, but after two hours even the best jokes get old. The show becomes less vivid because some scenes last longer than they should. The format doesn’t include enough new structures or twists to keep audiences engaged all the time. But production ends on a high note with an end game leaning heavily on audience input, suggesting that perhaps more games and structure could help move things along.
ImprovBoston might not be a groundbreaking comedic revelation, but the sympathetic and talented cast can nonetheless provide something fresh to boost energy and laughter on a Thursday night.
– Editor Jenna Bao can be contacted at [email protected]