Review: Spontaneous Generation improvises comedic performance

The Newtonite


 
by Peter Diamond
Eleven actors created impromptu comedy for a live audience last night at 7:30 p.m. in the little theatre.
These students comprise the cast of this school’s annual improvisational comedy show, “Spontaneous Generation,” directed by senior Nicole Bunis and junior Sam Raby. The show will run tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at theatreink.net.
Unlike any other Theatre Ink production, “Spontaneous Generation” is entirely improvised and incorporates audience participation. Therefore, every performance is completely unique.
Last night’s performance began with a brief comedic sketch, the only scripted part of the show. This scene told a humorous story of famous politicians and historical figures visiting this school.
The element of audience participation was first put into play in the first improvised game, hosted by senior Graham Techler and freshman Elena Rodriguez.
Techler and Rodriguez asked audience members to call out made-up film titles, and performers enacted these imaginary movies.
For example, senior Charlie Beers and junior Alex Marzilli played dolphins in outer space for a movie entitled Dolphins in Space. The actors’ abilities to tell stories and to create strong characters in an instant became clear to the audience.
Next, junior Jack Reibstein introduced a humorous game called “Styles.” In this game, Raby, along with freshmen Liv Berlin and Daniel Ruttenberg, performed a short and clever scene about the tension between workers at an ice cream shop.
The audience was then invited to call out film and theatre genres, such as horror, folktale and film noir, and the three actors incorporated these styles into their scene. The result was an intricate display of smart humor and an accurate replication of well-known genres.
Ruttenberg morphed his character into a film noir-esque gangster, and when the scene became horror, Berlin reenacted the scene but changed the environment from an ice cream-eating facility to a brain-eating facility.
One of the funniest games of the night was called “Da Doo Ron Ron,” which is the name of a song by the Crystals. Six cast members made up a song to the tune of the band’s catchy hit single. The audience was impressed by the actors’ ability to create impromptu rhymes and to convey humor through song.
In another entertaining game, called “World’s Worst,” audience members called out various occupations, and actors performed an extremely short scene conveying the world’s worst person of that profession.
For example, Techler portrayed a custodian who eats trash, and junior Alex Marzilli played a cop who is “only in it for the doughnuts.” Clever lines such as Marzilli’s made this game especially amusing.
In one nonsensical game, Marzilli hosted an imaginary press conference. While Marzilli was waiting outside the little theatre, the audience came up with the subject of his conference: Paris Hilton knitting a sweater in the bathroom.
Marzilli returned not knowing the conference’s purpose, and the other actors asked questions, such as “was her good friend Nicole Richie involved?” and “Did she at least flush when she was done?” in an effort to get him to guess the subject of the press conference. The talented troupe’s questions led Marzilli to blurt out the accurate conclusion.
The final act of the evening began when Bunis called up a random audience member, gilder Nancy Atkinson, who is the mother of an alumnus of this school.
Bunis interviewed Atkinson about her childhood in Buffalo; her discovery of an affinity for gilding, the technique of applying gold leaf to solid objects; and her life in Newton with her son Michael. Following the interview, Bunis announced that the cast would perform a completely improvised musical based on Atkinson’s life.
With the help of sophomore Gabe Montague, who improvised piano accompaniments for the actors’ songs, the troupe presented a hilarious piece of impromptu musical theatre, featuring Raby as Atkinson. Made-up songs told of Atkinson’s childhood, high school friendships, college life and gilding career.
Junior Nick Rodriguez, portraying Atkinson’s high school English teacher Mr. Catalano, and sophomore Kelsey Fox, portraying Atkinson’s best friend in college, stood out by singing some cleverly humorous lines.
As the cast sang the final line of the closing number, “Your life is gonna be gold,” a reference to gilding, the audience was awestruck by the actors’ uncanny ability to form structured songs around a stranger’s life.
To enjoy this amazing and hilarious show, attend “Spontaneous Generation” at 7:30 p.m. in the little theatre tomorrow or Saturday.