Review by Brian Murphy
Improvisation is the ability to perform without preparation, about being in a moment of truth and bringing the audience with you. This connection creates a spontaneous reaction between performer and audience, resulting in anything from uproarious laughter to anguished tears - or any emotion in between. Anyone wishing to experience this sensation should get their butts to a performance of Without Annette.
Writers Hope Juber and Jeff Doucette’s show is set in an improv class that combines classic dramatic structure with random elements gleaned from the seats. Each show is a unique hybrid of scripted and improv performance, but basically it’s a blast! One thing improv teaches you is how to listen (to yourself, your partner, and the audience) and this cast heard us and put us all in the same place at the same time.
The company, culled from the Groundlings, Second City, Spolin Players, et al, all worked to take us on a journey: from Mark Beltzman’s those-who-can’t-do-teach teacher; to Joell Posey and Corinne Dekker’s roommates-without-wardrobe-boundaries; to Kyle Klein’s dark-brooding angst-filled goth; to Shea Scullin’s NFL-star-turned-insurance-salesman, and improv legend Donna Du Bain’s turn from insecure mom to head-lock-dealing biker-lesbian-bitch. While Christina Engelhardt, Bill Chott, Brice Williams, Willem Van der Vegt and Alex Ball all inhabit and own every character.
Juber Productions, in association with Green Door Productions, presents this world premiere comedy. At Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Thursdays only through Oct 2. Tickets: (323) 960-5773 or www.plays411.com. Photo credit: Michael Lamont.
Note: My nephew Brian first turned me on to improv years back when he was with the Groundlings in Hollywood. Then he joined me in New York where he did Stand-Up at all the famous spots, as well as musical theater Off Broadway. In more recent years we have both returned to the West Coast where he has taken me to sessions at Second City and I have taken him to more serious original plays. MMM