Aisle Say (FL): 2013 SARASOTA IMPROV FESTIVAL
AISLE SAY Florida
2013 SARASOTA IMPROV FESTIVAL
Director and Coordinator
Keating and Gompertz Theatres
Palm Ave. and Cocoanut,
July 12 and 13, 2013
Reviewed by Marie J.
I was able to review
10 of the 15 groups, from four states, who played various types of improv over
two days starting from 4 p.m. and going
to past 10. The crowning
performance was a complete 95 minute play by The Improvised Shakespeare Co. of
Chicago, followed by an All Play featuring performers from all the groups. The last allowed me to see some of FST’s
Vintage Whine, Smith & I, Sick Puppies Comedy, Stacked, and The Third
Thought which I couldn’t work into the heavy schedule of 40 to 50 minutes per
act. Maybe next year? All in all,
this was the best yet of the Sarasota Improv Festivals—and even the
Closing Night Party, held in the dining area of The Gompertz and Court Cabaret,
offered improved food, friendship, and fun. Oh, yes, there was impromptu improv
into the wee hours!
FST Improv - Sarasota
theater games included an imagined first meeting of a 26-year married audience
couple showing Emotions on a Roller-Coaster. A play made up of Gibberish On and
Off led into a funny New Musical based on the suggested title CLUTZ, that
somehow moved to a nitroglycerine
factory. In a Paper Chase,
famous lines from movies led to great fun
including a puppel show and
an inteview involving palmetto bugs. FST’s Christine Alexander, Tim Beasley,
Catey Brannan, Chris Friday, Patrick jackson, Darryl Knapp, Adam Ratner, Jake
Mills, and Steve Turrisi started the festival very well indeed. Jim Prosser on
piano began the first of many contributions to the improv teams.
long tale grew from a suggestion of the last thing an audience member bought
for $5, and that was Sunglasses. There followed mother-daughter rivalry
(Christine Cuddy and Deana C. Tolliver), cab driver directions, hair dressing,
a scene in a movie theater, trip to Hollywood and a 15-year later casting. To
help in this, a young boy Ollie, proved an invaluable extempore player from the
audience. A finger play and a
strip act were penultimate to expressions of what everyone wanted to be in the
future. Again Ollie came onstage
to triumpth, helped by Mike Descoteaux, Will Luera, and especially Robert Woo.
Nice work by all.
Hawk and Wayne –
Hawk and Ricky Wayne presented the premiere of a show called IT’S A LIVING. There was a lot of disconnected
talk between the two followed by a simulated stopping of a speeder, something
involving a pregnant wife, and a yogurt bar. The conversation was mostly inane. A 40-min. dud.
Company – Orlando
company able to play regular comedies, Jester created a vaudeville with many
acts, by the players in turn acting out
various people and situations suggested by a woman at a desk handing out
assignments. That meant scenes with
weirdos learning Swahili, spelunking, avoiding being caught, constantly
yawning, preparing for a root canal, trying to understand Japanese, juggling,
playing beach volleyball, going to
a Rock concert, flicking hair as Cher would, running like a toddler. Lots for Jay Hopkins, Gemma Fearn,
Brett Waldo, and Diana Hopkins to do—and done well.
Available Cupholders – Austin, TX
men and a girl (Michael Joplin, Ace Manning, Bill Stern, and Kaci Beeler)
combine audience suggestions, found props, and their own ingenuity to create a
comedy-drama. In this case, the
final prop that led to the big play was Cleopatra’s mummified leg. To find it,
a trip to Egypt was in order and the Valley of the Kings and then Queens relied on an idea given from
an English drama school. Not to be
forgotten, an Italian opera singer got into the act, which was just as probably
and also entertaining as so many known operas!
Mad Cowford –
lot of to-do about TACOS. Some of the take-offs on fancy restaurants was well
done but much of the very uneven show didn’t seem much like improv. Scenes about a Highsway Patrol and
regarding soap operas seemed to have parts of often used schtick.
It seemed hard to use all eight players, though Bobby Parker and John Kalinowski made some
interesting additions to slightly stilted scenes. The players were enthusiastic,
though: Jamie Armstrong, Nick Davis, Matt Flagler (extrovert), Shavone Steele,
Rachel Stromberg, Bill Welch.
Dad’s Garage –
Blair, Kevin Gillese, Travis Sharp, and Dan Triandiflou do improv par
excellence – very accomplished with dialogue that could be in a literary
comedy at times. They did a silly interview in which the gimmick was that two
respondents answered as one and the coordination was a thing of pure joy. A grocery store scene came from an
audience I-phone. A section called
Creative Features showed movies you never have to see, but the MAN’S BEST
FRIEND reproduced was good enough to want to see. Always grand to see this
SAK Comedy Lab –
guys seemed to come in fours (David Charles, Chris Dinger, Jay Hopkins, Brett
Waldon) to do a series of traditional scenes. Based on Sci-Fi Movies, all became androids. There were much
ado about something and 2 gentlemen with a Corona challenging Omlet: Maybe it’s
the eggs that smell so bad in Denmark.
That sort of silly stuff. A
MAKE-UP MUSICAL had actual cosmetic make-up (but strangely concocted) lead to
the inciting incident and a final serenade made good fun by all and for
listeners. This group has launched careers of well known TV stars and the
current players don’t suffer by comparison.
Shakespeare Company – Chicago
the piece de resistance!
Proceeding from the suggestion of a character and an action, GABRIEL’S
ADVENTURES was an entire Elizabethan-style play. In line with the company’s practice, the show was all-male, without
completely original, unrehearsed, unwritten and never to be duplicated. Gabriel the love-laden hero (like Romeo
and Orlando) is separated from heroine Rosalind by the Duke and also the adverse
opinion of the match by Gabriel’s best friend Lucifer. Along the way to a bittersweet end,
Gabriel is forced into an army against Spaniards threatening Verona, where a
strange secret body of water has strange things in it. There’s a jealous woman,
a Petruchio who comes to get Rosalind away for himself (but is stopped by
Gabriel in a Punch and Judy type of altercation), and Beowulf’s mother Grendel—all
woven into the plot, swiftly and Swiss-ly (the last via hidden identity).
Though without a Hamlet, the play was, in the end, not without Ghosts. Conceived and
directed by Blaine Swen, the company features him, Brendan Dowling, Tim
Sniffen, and Matt Young and is on a par with Second City and the Neo-Futurists
at their best – who are the best in the improv world.
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