There’s a lot to love about HUGE Theater right now – their outspoken and direct response to their landlord, their commitment to inclusion and diversity, and putting community first. But of course, there’s the shows, which fill every day of the week with improv.
The 10:30pm slot on Saturday nights features Interludes, with opener Bollyprov. Using styles from Bollywood films, Bollyprov uses audience suggestion to create a melodramatic story filled with love, humor and dance. This evening, for instance, featured a girl named Johanna, deeply in love with her classmate Peter. But her family has a grudge against people named Peter due to an estranged uncle. Using only two improv artists, the story switched back and forth quickly between them, making it easy to forget that this was being thought up in the moment and not actually a scripted performance parodying a film.
Interludes, which followed, uses improv scenes interrupted by other ensemble members to focus on certain moments or lines said in the scene and focus on them, through minimalism, repetition, musical and percussive elements. These “interludes” focus on what the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters in the scene might be, with the improv artists who are playing these characters occasionally stepping forward to share their own monologue. Scenes included school students attempting plagiarism, fish trying to avoid being tempted by lures, and millennials not ready to commit (to name a few).
This sharing of the scenes among the ensemble is particularly wonderful both in seeing the richness possible in these spontaneously created characters and the ways in which the ensemble builds off each other and works together to create poignant and hilarious moments.
In one scene, a character uttered, “Why can't you look away? What about this is weird?"
Improv is all about the weird – the more absurd and ridiculous, the better. I recently started improv classes at HUGE (the morning right after seeing Interludes, coincidentally) and it’s wonderful to be allowed to be ridiculous, not worry about making mistakes, and embrace not knowing what’s going to happen next. Interludes is full of meandering, ridiculous journeys and I loved seeing an ensemble explore this together. As an artist, I find it easy to get stuck in a rut and feeling stale about my work. Doing and seeing improv makes me feel enthused and invigorated and I felt especially inspired after watching the spontaneous character work created on stage. There’s a lot to love about HUGE right now, and I particularly love Interludes.