Reviewing improv shows, which change completely from week to week, is tricky. Good improv groups are judged by their consistency, and certainly the long-running Theatresports company has an impressive track record.
"Triple Play," at the group's longstanding venue Theatre/Theater, was created by group co-founder Forrest Brakeman in order to display the talents of Theatre-sports' senior members. Each week, three different stories in three different styles--taken from novels, movies and musicians--are performed. The evening this reviewer attended, the styles were Stephen King, Merchant Ivory and Cole Porter.
Playing around with different styles from popular culture, usually at the suggestion of the audience, is a tried-and-true improv exercise that can be a real crowd-pleaser. Expanded to full-length form and stripped of spontaneity (the styles are announced in advance), what was designed as a black-out comedy sketch becomes laborious.
Like the material, the performers also change on a weekly basis. On the evening in question, the cast included Sherry Bilsing, Wayne Brady, Dave Bushnell, Doug Langdale, Dan O'Connor, Ellen Plummer, Geoff Tarson and David Warick, with Alan Axelrod providing musical accompaniment. Directed by Katharine Mills, all achieved some genuinely amusing moments within the boundaries of what, this week at least, seemed a sadly strained concept.