Billy (Alex Perez) is auditioning for the Church play. He has a Shakespearian monologue, but the monsignor (Peter Quon) wants him to throw in some lines about the protection of babies. “Improv, eh?” Billy says, “That’s tough.”
Indeed it is, Billy. That’s why you shouldn’t try it at home. This novice troupe is not only doing improv but raising the stakes by creating an imaginary television show along the lines of the ABC after-school special. This is certainly ambitious but I must tell you that their reach has exceeded their grasp, by several lengths.
At the invitation of troupe dramaturg Audrey Emmet, the serious-minded audience in the show I saw on the 13th, selected abortion as the crisis City Folk’s cast must face. Minutes later, Billy is at the confessional, telling the monsignor of the lustful acts between him and his girlfriend (Karen Salisbury-Lange). “Serious hand-holding?” asks the clueless cleric. Much of the humor is at that level.
In a way, it’s not really fair to hold City Folk to account. Many television sit-coms take three or four hours to write, and we can’t expect the City Folk to make one up on the fly. In fact, mimicking the sit-com format is what City Folk do best. They have the ridiculous poses down, as well as the rapid scene changes, and the bizarre laugh and applause tracks. It’s just the substance of the productions which eludes them.
Among the folks on stage, the “guests”, Perez and Salisbury-Lange, were clearly the most comfortable with the format. Except for Anu Yadav, the City Folk regulars seemed a little flat and off-center in their portrayals. Of course, it’s a little challenging to be spontaneously witty about abortion.
Running time: Forty minutes, including one ten-minute intermission.
Tickets: City Folk
Remaining Show: July 24 at 8
Where: Source . 1835 14th St, NW