Unscripted is an apt name for an improvisational performance. The show is performed by two members of the improv company VI Lenin. While Unscripted demonstrates their skill and offers some laughs, this Capital Fringe offering suffers from the high degree of difficulty of the long form of improv.
The performance began with soliciting the name of an audience member’s favorite song and using its chorus as the evening’s inspiration. At this performance, the audience member came up with a challenging song.
That choice was turned into the story of two men, each complaining about the individual difficulties in his life, leading the two to switch lives for a week. While laughs can be mined from misery (and was done so by talented performers Joe Uchno and Richard Nyman), it can be an uphill struggle given natural human instinct to empathize with, say, an individual having to sell belongings because of poverty.
Artistically, it’s easy to admire VI Lenin because the comedy troupe tackles long form improv, the most difficult form of improv. The two actors found clever ways to stretch out the story, flipping settings and characters while maintain the narrative. With only two people on stage, however, it can be hard to keep the energy up and the action moving since there are no performers who can “tap in” to offer new ideas and energy while offering a break to other players. For this reason, most improv companies perform with 4-6 members. (The VI Lenin company has three members, but only two are participating in this Capital Fringe offering.)
closes July 25, 2018
Details and tickets
Improv comedy has risen in popularity over the past few decades, thanks in part to the growth of comedy clubs around the country. DC has a number of improv troupes. VI Lenon is one of them, the longest running is Washington Improv Theater. And your choices to watch improvisation has increased this summer with to of the nation’s leading improv companies performing here: Second City’s Generation Gap at the Kennedy Center and Upright Citizens Brigade’s Damned If You Do at Woolly Mammoth.
Audiences newer to improv or seeking an inexpensive comedy option can enjoy Unscripted. The experience and comic dexterity of Uchno and Nyman make for a pleasant, moderately fun Capital Fringe experience. Yet it’s hard to avoid the feeling that shorter skits or a larger company might have elevated the experience.
Unscripted by the improv company VI Lenin. Directed by Richard Nyman. Featuring Joe Uchno and Richard Nyman. Reviewed by Steven McKnight.
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