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Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012

Kicking the Dickens in Bay View

Alchemist’s Comic Alternative

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Alchemist Theatre presents an improv comedy alternative to tired re-mountings of other Christmas shows that dominate many stages. A cast of five perform one hour of improv split into two acts. Act one contains short, improvised performances with a holiday slant. The second half is a long-form piece written as a parody of A Kick In The Dickens, with the cast improvising from the story based on suggestions taken from the audience Mad Libs-style. (That second act is a lot more fun than it sounds. Really, the format seems to be there largely to support some particularly funny people being respectably funny onstage.)

Though they haven’t worked together extensively in the past, the group of five are familiar enough with the basic language of improv that the whole show comes together pretty well. Anna Figlesthaler brings a radiant, hyper-adaptive dynamic to the group that can effortlessly twist from superficial comedy to deeper stuff without any apparent transition. Of all those assembled here, Matt Koester's talents seem to paint comedy into subtle shades of characterization that deliver directly into the mood of the moment. Andrea Moser has that admirable ability great improv comics have of being able to lean into the mood of nearly any piece and make it feel like it's been pre-written and rehearsed. Jason Powell brings his affable nice-guy stage presence to work in a style that can lean, at times, into the more intellectual side of things. Possibly more experienced with straight ahead improv than anyone else in the show, Lee Rowley brings a remarkably honed set of skills with an admirable spirit of experimentation.

Alchemist Theatre's A Kick In The Dickens runs through Dec. 22 at Alchemist Theatre and Lounge, 2569 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. For ticket reservations, visit www.alchemisttheatre.com.
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