A thoroughly entertaining comedy improv show that can be seen again and again, Impro Theatre's Shakespeare Unscripted, directed by Brian Lohmann and Dan O'Connor, features a talented, witty cast, incorporating the use of wordplay, puns, Shakespearean language, and even, sometimes, rhymes.
This particular performance included Kari Coleman, Brian Michael Jones, Stephen Kearin, Dan O'Connor, Edi Patterson, and Paul Rogan.
The play begins even as the audience is arriving, with the improv ensemble portraying Italian actors who are waiting to perform a show. The cast set a lively, energetic, and positive tone for the evening and there was a lot of laughter throughout the night from the audience. Performed with the structure of a romantic comedy, suggestions from the audience included war, an iceberg, and a Bar Mitzvah, all of which were connected to one another and used extensively and seamlessly with a balance of purpose and comedy.
The basic plot for this evening's performance was that two soldiers (played by Dan O'Connor and Paul Rogan) were returning from war and looking for love. In one example of utilising an audience suggestion, O'Connor and Rogan feigned reading an excerpt from the Torah, saying in unison, "You have become a man and now must find a woman." O'Connor and Rogan had many humourous and particularly articulate exchanges. The entire cast adapted beautifully to the language, with O'Connor standing out as possessing a seemingly natural ability to speak in the style of a Shakespearean play.
Kari Coleman, Edi Patterson, and Brian Michael Jones portrayed siblings who had lost their parents but who were raised by a sarcastic Nurse (played delightfully by the brilliant Stephen Kearin). Jones' character makes it his mission to find husbands for his sisters, and hilarity ensues as Coleman's convincingly amoral character resists marriage and forms a convoluted plot to avoid the inevitable act. Edi Patterson does an excellent job of playing a virtuous woman who nonetheless disguises herself as her sister to save her family's plight and, ultimately, her own impending marriage.
So, should you see it?
Methinks this show would be well worth your while; you'll be sure to enjoy a perpetual smile.
Playing through May 4th: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm. Sundays at 2pm. FOR TICKETS: www.pasadenaplayhouse.org or 626-356-7529. Located at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre (upstairs at the Pasadena Playhouse), 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, 91101.