Conceived by IRTE; Directed by Pat Shay
Off Off Broadway, Improvised Comedy
Runs through 4.26.14
The Producers Club, 458 West 44rd Street
by Geri Silver on 4.21.14
The ensemble of IRTE, currently performing improv comedy THE SCARY.
BOTTOM LINE: This Stephen King-themed improv show, though a bumpy ride on this particular performance, has plenty of fun-loving charm.
There’s something uniquely exciting about going to watch improvised theatre, an art form that demands equal parts talent, wit, and bravery from its performers. I say ‘bravery’ because of the actors’ willingness to step on to the stage with a completely blank slate, spontaneously creating a one-of-a-kind evening in collaboration with both the audience and each other. In The Scary, the Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble, also known as IRTE, brings a highly entertaining concept along with the already guaranteed appeal of improv: the show and its characters are inspired by the creepy and ridiculous thrills made famous by Stephen King.
Using various audience-interactive methods, the show, directed by Pat Shay, begins by establishing a few loose guidelines. For this performance, we had a Carrie-esque unpopular high school girl (portrayed in a hilariously ridiculous fashion by Alex Decaneas), and an IT-like scary evil clown (IRTE Artistic Director Nannette Deasy) to play out their fates in a hotel in Maine.
Despite the promising set-up, describing the incoherent events that followed is unfortunately difficult. There was a silly-string squirting hotel guest, a frustrated writer with two trophy wives, a sex-loving trucker couple, and plenty of blood, but the ensemble never felt completely in sync with each other, which sent the show scattering in numerous directions with a lack of focus. However, the less-than-perfect improvisational storytelling was somewhat redeemed by the actors’ clear enjoyment -- never taking themselves or the ridiculous events too seriously, their fun was infectious.
There is a friendly charm to IRTE's performance, including a talented musical act -- ‘Pablo (Bluesboy)’ at this performance -- to perform during intermission, and a warm invitation to socialize and drink with the cast after the show (The Producers Club, where the show takes place, has a bar along with its multiple intimate theatre spaces). There is no doubt that the actors love what they do, which makes it easier to accept and laugh along with them. And best of all, the principle of improvisation guarantees that no show will be the same, meaning what didn’t work well this time will be wiped clean for the next, offering a fresh world of possibilities and directions for next time around. With that said, you may not know what you’re going to get at The Scary, but if evil clowns, creepy twins, gifted unpopular girls, and other familiarly chilling characters perk your ears, this may a great destination for your Saturday night.
(The Scary plays at The Producers Club, 458 West 44rd Street, on Saturday, April 26th, 2014 at 8PM. Tickets are $10 and are available online at irteinfo.wix.com.)