Wonder what the Bard would do if he saw Impro Theatre’s “Shakespeare UnScripted?” Probably laugh out loud. An entire two-act Shakespearean homage improvised, in iambic pentameter in Elizabethan English? No way! Yes, way . . . for the most part. That’s what the tremendously talented ensemble known as Improv Theatre did on Sunday, April 27, 2014 and will continue to perform through May 4. Don’t miss it!
Each show is completely unique, improvised on the spot, with a few audience prompts as springboard and in the style of Shakespeare’s beloved comedies. In that vein “Shakespeare UnScripted” is actually a play within a play. Ensemble members greet audience members as they enter in the guise of restaurant owners who then close early to put on a play. What ensues is fresh and funny dialogue that is indeed, at times, iambic and Elizabethan (with some contemporary words slipped in here and there). No one knows where it is headed or where it will end, not even the cast and tech crew.
On April 27, using prompts of a shipwreck, the Amalfi Coast and a grapevine, ensemble members Lisa Fredrickson, Brian Lohmann, Paul Rogan, and guests artists Daniel Blinkoff and Mike Rock took the appreciative audience on a delightful ride. They were down a man or rather a woman so the actors found themselves playing multiple roles, the funniest of which was Lohman in a love scene with himself.
Blinkoff came up with some amazing improvised poetry, Rock pantomimed climbing a grapevine to perfection, Fredrickson came up with some of the most hilarious lines, Lohmann’s magical fawn was wonderfully wacky and Rogan put a cherry on top of this confection with a final line worth of the master himself. Most impressive of all was the way they all worked together to weave a remarkable number of twists into their tale.
The set and costumes are by Sandra Burns, the lighting design is by Leigh Allen, stage manager and lighting improviser is Michael Becker, and sound improviser is Alex Caan added mightily to the enjoyment of this offering.
All of Impro Theatre’s productions are marvelous. But what they undertake in “Shakespeare UnScripted” is stunning! If this reviewer had deeper pockets she would return again and again.
“Shakespeare UnScripted” performs 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through May 4. Saturday’s 7 p.m. show is sold out so they have added a 5 p.m. show. Tickets are $30 ($15 student tickets are available; student ID required at the door). Call 626-356-7529 or visit www.PasadenaPlayhouse.org.
The Carrie Hamilton Theatre is located upstairs at The Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Avenue in Pasadena. Lot and street parking are available.