Review: The Improv Play (Infusion Theatre)

| April 16, 2012
Kevin Crispin and Lea Pascal - Infusion Theatre Improv Play       
The Improv Play 

Written by Randall Colburn  
Directed by Mitch Golob
DCA Storefront Thtr, 66 E. Washington (map)
thru May 20  |  tickets: $15-$25   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review


Fun ideas abound with large affable cast


Tom McGrath, Rob Grabowski, Nick Mikula and Beau Forbes

Infusion Theatre Company presents
The Improv Play

Review by Katy Walsh 

“The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow.”  -Mark Twain 

Infusion Theatre Company, in conjunction with DCA Theater, presents the world premiere of The Improv Play.  Walt got the nod.  He’s leaving Chicago’s Second City for “Saturday Night Live.”  His success makes others tally their own comedic situation.  Ben lost his job chasing the big joke.  Ellie lost her boyfriend trying to be funny. Walker lost his humor wanting to be taken seriously.   As Walt heads to New York, Lindsay packs for Idaho and Stan contemplates Schaumburg.  The Improv Play is a behind-the-laughter look at actors struggling with their dream and their reality.

David Goodloe - Infusion Theatre, Improv PlayPlaywright Randall Colburn penned a personal ode to Chicago theatre angst.  CTA Brown Line, IO, Mullen’s: the places are real.  Temp work, relationship woes, binge drinking; the situations are familiar.  Colburn even amusingly makes a subtle joke about one of his own plays, Ghost Box.  Witty!  This is definitely an insider’s showcase of people on the slow track to comedic triumph.  The show kicks off with a true improv set.  The audience interacts by giving topics for the improvising.  There are a plethora of these shticks throughout the show.  Sometimes, it’s a genuine fresh idea from the audience. Sometimes, it’s an actor in the audience setting up the staged interaction.  It’s a fun idea.  But between these scenes, audition scenes, preshow scenes, show scenes, aftershow party scenes, post aftershow party scenes, it’s lot to be seen!

With an energetic and talented cast of sixteen, it seems like an art-imitating-life move.  Colburn wrote a show with sixteen characters.  It’s a sweet you-may-not-be-going-on-the-SNL-stage-but-I-can-get-you-on-the-DCA-stage. There is a power-of-the-fringe story here, but all the mega-sharing of drinks and rejection convolutes the true message.  Under the direction of Mitch Golob, the transitions in and out of improv-ed and scripted dialogue is well-orchestrated.  Even when a bad performance in the pretend show serves as a speed bump, Golob keeps the show moving!  It’s just a lot of scenes to get through. The numerous everyone-should-get-a-chance-to-play scenes makes it more like being at a cast party than seeing a theatrical production.

Still, The Improv Play is a realistic portrayal to the plight of a Chicago actor. Sometimes, it can be funny.  Sometimes, it can be dramatic.  It’s rewarding.  It’s demeaning.  It pays nothing.  It’s the price of happiness.  For actors, The Improv Play is a virtual boot camp to toughen you up for the long haul.  For the audience, it’ a reminder of what each of these sixteen people gave up to entertain you for a couple of hours.  Bittersweet!

Rating: ★★½

The Improv Play continues through May 20th at DCA Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm.  Tickets are $15-$25, and are available by phone (312-742-8497) or online at (check for half-price tickets at More information at time: 2 hours 15 minutes, one intermission)

Beau Forbes and Jamie Bragg - Infusion Theatre Improv Play Kevin Crispin and Lea Pascal
Rob Grabowski and Steve Thomas - Infusion Theatre Improv Play Nick Mikula and Lea Pascal - Infusion Theatre Improv Play

All photos by John W. Sisson, Jr. 




Kevin Anderson (Bones); Jamie Bragg (Gwen); Kevin Crispin (Ben); Beau Forbes (Jefferson); Will Gillespie (Walt); Sarah Gitenstein (Lindsay); David Goodloe (Andy); Rob Grabowski (Stan); Elise Mayfield (Wendy); Tom McGrath (Pete); Frances McKearn (Delilah); Nick Mikula (Walker); Lea Pascal (Ellie); Steven Thomas (Fabs); Andrew McCammon, Haily Wineland (understudies)

behind the scenes

Mitch Golob (director); Bridgette Harney (asst. director); Bill Arnett (improv consultant); Dave Ferguson (set design); Charles Cooper (lighting); Claudette Perez (sound design); Rachel Sypniewski (costumes); Devyn Mares (props); Justin Argenio (production manager); Tara Malpass (stage manager); Jamie Bragg (dramaturg); Claire Tuft (casting); John W. Sisson, Jr. (photos)


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Category: 2012 Reviews, DCA Theatre, Infusion Theatre, Katy Walsh, New Work, World Premier

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