October 29, 2008

Jane Austen Unscripted

Kim and I attended Jane Austen improv at Theater Asylum in Hollywood on Saturday night. I was a little skeptical to begin with, and while the first-five minutes or so seemed shaky at best, the production certainly turned to madcap frivolity. Thanks to the impromptu nature of the plot, every night's show tells a completely different story, starting with a theme suggested by the audience. The one we saw included three sisters of marrying age whose late mother died after spontaneously combusting. (Don't ask.) Remarkably, the players managed to keep an authentic Austen-esque narrative throughout and even wrapped up all the completely RANDOM loose ends into a happy ending of sorts.

The production runs through mid-November. Check it out if you're in L.A.!

1 comment:

  1. We have extended until February 15th and just received a great review in the LA Weekly below...
    NEW REVIEW GO NEW REVIEW GO JANE AUSTEN UNSCRIPTED Oh, what fun to see an improv troupe create a two act drama in the style of a Jane Austen novel, inspired on the night I attended by the audience suggestion "snails." The show is never the same, though director Dan O'Connor did say the company has rehearsed an English country dance that sometimes gets plugged in, sometimes not. And there are of course constant characters whom the company switch in and out of, depending on who's available on any given night. O'Connor portrayed Mr. Dawson on the night this show was reviewed, a highly reputable fellow engaged in a snarky and pointless dispute with one Miss Amelia Green (the charming Jo McGinley) Much of the plot concerned the ability of these two porcupines to find love - in a Regency English style no less, encumbered by tightly fitting corsets, vests, dinner jackets and ties. Among the moments of high tension was when Amelia's father (Floyd Van Buskirk) found the prickly lovebirds unescorted in a parlor room, sparking a scandal. There were also gorgeous cameos by Stephen Kearin as the genteel, horse-faced Mr. Robert Walker, and by Lauren Lewis as Amelia's delightfully bird-brained sister, Rebecca. Eleven first rate comedians performed the night the show was reviewed; somebody hadn't turned their cell phone all the way off, triggering a whining sound over the speakers, and causing a spontaneous subplot about a swarm of invading bees, and some controversy over whether or not it was decent of Mr. Walker to cure Rebecca's bee sting by slopping mud on her bare arm. Aside from its breathtaking wit, the show reveals the codes of behavior that accrue into a acting style, and even a social style. This is a comedy about essence rather than substance, revealing how one is so often confused with the other. If there is such a thing as humane comedy, this would be it. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Feb. 15. (323) 401-6162. An Impro Theatre production. (Steven Leigh Morris)