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Shakespeare Unscripted by Impro Theatre – Los Angeles Theater Review

 

SHAKING UP SHAKESPEARE

 

picture - Shakespeare UnscriptedTheater Review

by Tony Frankel 

published July 8, 2010 

 

Shakespeare Unscripted

now playing in Los Angeles (San Pedro) at the Little Fish Theatre  

through August 1 

 

Get thee to San Pedro. Methinks thou wilt split thy sides open with laughter. Impro Theatre returns to make sure we don’t forget who the best bet is for a fun time – and this time, the company who just finished a successful run improvising Film Noir at The Asylum Theatre returns to their roots: creating a Shakespeare play from scratch.

 

Shakespeare himself might have concocted this plot: Parno (the elfin and quick-tongued Brian Michael Jones) discovers the dead body of his good friend Horachio (the deliciously deadpan Dan O’Connor). Horachio’s Mother, the Duchess of Bohemia (Lisa Fredrickson) sends her hand maiden Patricia (the Groundlings’ Edi Patterson) out to solve the crime. Fortunately, Patricia is in touch with an Oracle (the stunning Lauren Rose Lewis) who assigns riddles to solve the mystery. Lawyer Hypothicus Squirrel (also Mr. O’Connor) attends Parno in prison, but his hands are tied, as the law in Bohemia states that he who discovers a body is guilty of murder. Meanwhile, the snake-hunting Duke of Bohemia (loquacious Brian Lohmann) is framed for the murder of his son. Soon, Mother goes mad and sees her dead son’s ghost in a plank!

 

This story has never been seen before and will never be seen again. That is the magic of Shakespeare Unscripted. With a few suggestions from the audience at the top of the two-act night, the razor-sharp sextet of players utilizes every brain cell to create a Shakespearean tale on the spot.  Even more thrilling is that they employ devices such as rhyme and iambic pentameter to achieve a most satisfying event of astonishment and laughter.

 

Mr. Lohmann and Mr. O’Connor are the directors of this madcap mélange of mayhem. They keep their team running by adhering to strong comedy-improv principles: None of the actors deny each other’s creation, they aren’t going for “the laugh,” and, with one exception, they know when to give and take focus – that one exception is Mr. Lohmann, who tended to extend monologues when it seemed time to give the ball to other players.

 

I dare say you may become addicted to this classically trained ensemble (there is a rotating cast of 12 for this run) – one woman in the audience was there a second night in a row because she couldn’t fathom that this show was not pre-scripted! And if Shakespeare isn’t your bag (although you need know nothing about the man to enjoy the shenanigans), Impro also takes on Sondheim, Jane Austen, and Tennessee Williams throughout the year.

 

King Lear said, “Nothing comes from nothing.” Impro theatre proves that something can.

 

tonyfrankel @ stageandcinema.com

 

for tickets to this show, visit http://www.improtheatre.com/section/shows/

 

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