Making It Up As They Go Along

You won't believe the things that come out of some mouths in Sitcom, now in Cambridge.

From Bay Windows review of Sitcom Boston. December 10, 1998

Perhaps some performers choose to do improv theatre in order to handcuff reviewers. We'll never know. One has to wonder how to evaluate characters and plot when the characters and plot live only for one night, or, in the case of "Sitcom," only for thirty minutes. First, the premise. "Sitcom Boston" promises "two episodes of an improvised sitcom, complete with commercials and theme song." On the evening of December 3rd, based on an innocent suggestion from the back row of the house, the task set before the Sitcom ensemble was to create a show set in Graceland, Tennessee. It turned out to be Graceland in the future. Poor Lisa Marie.

Next, the players. While the entire ensemble is key to making the improv work, there are a couple of true standouts in the cast. Liz Feldman was undeniably hysterical as she deliciously pushed the envelope in many of ehr scenes as Joetta, a woman obsessed with Elvis's pelvis and destined to bear baby Elvises in homage to the King. One of Feldman's compatriots who shares the ability to strategically go over the top is Will Burke, endearingly known to those who attended the December 3rd performance as "Bobo the monkey boy." Burke is the type of performer who incites incredulous laughter - that is, the audiences simply cannot believe the things he thinks up to do and say.

Don Schuerman served as the director of the sitcom and shepherd of the group. With clipboard in hand, he was responsible for cutting to commercials and fading out scenes. He did so with ever so respectable timing. in fact, all ensemble members are blessed with fine timing. In addition, they are bright, witty, quick to retort, and most importantly, quick to share. it is an impressive collection of young talent.

Now, a word about the commercials. If you are not sure that you are experiencing genuine improv, then just wait for the commercial breaks in "Sitcom." The ensemble literllay pulls words out of a hat and makes commercials out of them. The words used come directly from audience members who are asked to write down a word, any word, as they file inot the theater. The result is highly scatalogical and tangential fodder for scenes and it is in these commercials where the ensemble's collaborative quick thinking really shines. The opportunity to watch instantaneous and cumulative brainwaves whip about the room in nearly palpable fashion is quite exciting.

There's really no need to describe in too much detail the denouement of Graceland's future - such a treatment would really be an exercise in cultivating private jokes. Suffice it to say that Joetta is well on her way to bearing children, bobo the oversized monkey stays on in the jungle room, Chachi cuts down on the amount of Spam he consumes, and Babette's private little voices finally disappear. That should whet your whistle.

A little tip: don't look for a playbill until the end of the first episode. Technology being as pervasive as it is, you might be surprised by just how "hot off the press" the program can be.

Copyright, Gina Perille

Go back to the SITCOM Home Page