Local Heroes

Local Heroes:
sketch and improv of heroic proportions
a kate west review

directed by Mitch Silpa
at the Westside Eclectic Theatre
1323-a 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA
(in the alley between 3rd and 4th, south of Arizona)
contact (310) 451-0850 or localheroes6@gmail.com (Myspace.com/localheroes6) Thursdays and Fridays
April through May, 2006; tix $8

Find yourself on the west side after dinner in search of entertainment? Instead of cramming into a crowded movie theater where someone will kick your chair and munch popcorn, head down to Westside Eclectic and catch some improv. You'll get much more bang out of your buck. They do several shows there, the latest being "Local Heroes". The cast members are all Groundlings-trained (for info on that crazy-famous comedic troupe check out www.groundlings.com) and Director Mitch Silpa is an actual Groundling. That means they know their funny.

Dorien Davies, Alex Enriquez, Samantha Klein, Travis Nelson, Avi Rothman and Kenny Stevenson all write their own material and have a great time performing it on the trendy stage of the Westside Eclectic. It's obvious that they love what they do and are all strong actors, especially Kenny Stevenson. Some highlights include Dorien Davies and Samantha Klein singing "Spolish Green" as pure-as-snow twins in a deliciously wicked spoof on Christian singers. Avi Rothman's and Dorien Davis' spoof on Latina pop-singer "Shakira" is hilarious as well. Avi Rothman's versatility really shines in "N'Amaste" and "Pillow", as a mystical yoga instructor and irritating airline passenger, respectively.

When the actors give 200% it really works. Some of the scenes are not as strong as others, but in general it's a very crowd-pleasing show. "Classically Trained" (Alex Enriquez, Avi Rothman and Kenny Stevenson) - a sketch about a classically trained prima donna commercial voice over actor could be stronger, for instance. "Captain Amazing" (Kenny Stevenson and Travis Nelson) is a cute idea, with computer geeks transforming into superheroes trying and failing to fix the office copier, as is "Brian Hodel" with Samantha Klein and Dorien Davies playing giggling 1980's teenagers and Kenny Stevenson's reverse strip tease in "Girl" (with Samantha Klein). "Love Hatchet" (Travis Nelson and Samantha Klein) about a trailer park screaming love nest and "Sexy Itchy" (Alex Enriquez and Samantha Klein) is alight but a lot of these scenes get a bit lost; one of the problems being that the space itself is not really conducive to comedy sketch. It's a fun space but not contained enough for the type of thing they are trying to do here. Still, it's a rockin' good time, judging from the audience's hoots and hollers alone.

Director Mitch Silpa does a great job of pacing the scenes and inspiring energy in the actors and host Amir Talai is likeable when heading the improv sets. Every actor is appealing - just be careful not to sit near the aisles if you don't want a run-in with sexually exuberant Russians in "To Russia with Love" (Dorien Davies and Kenny Stevenson). It's shorter than a full length movie so you'll still have time to enjoy all the diversity in the night life of Santa Monica.

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