Night in and night out, the Improvised Shakespeare Company churns out completely original works. The “Improvised” bit is key. “This is the debut performance—in the history of humanity,” said the narrator. “And assuming a linear reality, it will also be the last.”
The company performed at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center April 27. Per audience suggestion, the troupe performed a piece titled The Lost Girdle. Writing, acting and creating, scene by scene, five actors put on an acting showcase amid a tsunami of Shakespearean flavor.
The fearless actors show great timing, creativity and humor.
They’re spontaneous and relentless to jokes, like sharks to blood. They pile in and pile on: puns, references, randomness. They’re unflappable, and they don’t laugh at their own wit.
They’re well versed in Shakespearean dialogue, plots and pace, even rhythm and pitch. They spit streams of twisting, densely woven dialogue, knotted with spectacular vocabulary. They’re just good actors, simply put. Each plays a bevy of characters, concocting accents and inventing and adjusting physicality and posture on the fly. They’re loud and clear, and they emote well. They have stage presence. Most importantly, they’re really into it—doing what they love, passionately.
Together, the troupe is a study in anticipation, collaboration, chemistry, teamwork and great joy and pride in joke one-upmanship. They create infinite scenes and props together, simply with pure imagination and good body language.
Among the few downsides is that it’s easy to get lost in the tangled webs they weave. There are few introductions or explanations.
Dialogue flows fast, free, layered, accented and nuanced. Nobody stops for jokes; they just race to the next one.
Ultimately—all jokes aside—it all feels Shakespearean: tenor, pace, drama, grandeur—even spittle flecks. The Bard would be proud.