Noir Town and No Place Like Rome
a kate west review
directed by Patrick Bristow
at Theatre Asylum
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
playing February 5, 19; March 5, 19; April 2, 16, 30
contact (323) 962-1632 or www.cafearts.com
The improv group Improvatorium is a group of former theater students from Hollywood's Theatre Asylum who just want to bring you a little improv fun in these heavy economic times. Headed by Patrick Bristow (from the famed Groundlings Theatre), the troupe presents two long form acts - one in a Film Noir genre and one in Roman Epic. They are professional actors who take suggestions from the audience and create murder, mystery, decadence and spoof, all in period clothing.
At the start of the Act One, we see a black and white screen listing the actors and set to a film score to get you into a sober detecting mood. Someone dies and you get to choose the murderer. Is it the evil foreigner? The loyal secretary? Or perhaps someone in the shadows? This particular evening, it was the woman running a car wash, of course someone you would least suspect.
The actors have a ball creating droll 1940's dialogue, complete with dramatic pauses and meaningful glances. Act Two sets up a wild romp in Roman times, with full regalia (you know you want to see those Centurian feather headsets). We pick the plots points and the actors camp it up for us, delighting in the enfolding madness. And it is obvious they are having the time of their lives up on that stage.
The players are solid and while this relatively new company has a few minor rough edges to smooth out, they have a lot of entertaining nights ahead of them. Particular standouts this evening were Kevin Berntson, Gareth Berrow, Brian Clark, Peggy Etra and Jayne Entwistle.
Do you think you can do what they do? Find out: