For the month of September, the Falcon Theatre hosts the talented, hysterically funny Impro Theatre completely improvising “Twilight Zone UnScripted,” an evening of four original episodes in homage to Rod Serling’s classic 1960s TV series.
These master improvisers (co-directed by company members Jo McGinley and Stephen Kearin) play off each others’ verbal and physical cues seamlessly, taking the sometimes-absurd dialogue to such extreme ridiculousness you just have to burst out laughing. Ignoring the old stage adage of never letting the audience know you’ve made a mistake, the few times performers do step on another’s lines or comment in error, the troupe actually acknowledges these moments to the audience, inducing even more laughs and chuckles.
Each “episode” begins after eliciting a word suggestion from the audience. Then the familiar “Twilight Zone” theme music plays and hilarity ensues.
For opening night, the first episode revolved around an object: “pocket watch.” Dan O’Connor (Impro Theatre’s artistic director) and Lauren Rose Lewis convincingly played troubled newlyweds who bicker over the newly found pocket watch, wrestling with the memories of deep, dark family secrets it brings up.
The second episode occurred in a location: “Berlin.” Edi Patterson and Brian Lohmann ably led the skit as spies trying to pass on information to foreign operatives in a dingy cabaret. Michele Spears slunk around not-so-cluelessly (and to great comic effect) as the German cabaret singer with a French accent. Paul Logan convincingly essayed the quiet war refugee missing his red-eyed daughter he had to leave behind on the other side of the Berlin Wall.
The third had to center around an occupation: “service station attendant.” Brian Michael Jones easily morphed from the timid weakling attendant Bobby into a Hercules suddenly enhanced with alien-enabled super-strength. Lewis played the stranded Mrs. Wilson with a flat-tired ’54 Chevy. Mike McShane menaced with ease as the desperate bank robber trying to take advantage of Bobby’s superpowers. Patterson and Spears created side-splitting sound effects of lug nuts loosing, tires bouncing, car doors ripping and metal crunching.
The final episode took place in a group setting: “bingo hall.” Spears nailed her portrayal of a naive, single bingo newbie as she eventually discovered the demonic aspects of that particular bingo hall.
The ensemble exhibited great give-and-take, alternately allowing one or another to take center stage or knowing when to just give support. As with all improvisations, it’s hard to know what to expect. What you can expect from “Twilight Zone UnScripted” are solid attempts at making you laugh and keeping you thoroughly entertained the entire two hours you’re sitting in the Falcon Theatre. Expect nothing less!
—Gil Kaan, Culture Spot LA
Performances continue through Sept. 29 at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank 91505. Show times are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 4 p.m. For tickets, call (818) 955-8101 or visit www.FalconTheatre.com.