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Promising Improvisation

New group Beatrice pairs successfully with old hands in The Shoves at UCB.

Beatrice, a new long-form improv team, made its debut at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre on November 22 with now-veteran group The Shoves.

Beatrice is a mix of UCB performers with experience from various other teams there. The group has a strong command of games of scenes, evident right from the start, grasping the possibilities of scenes and the humor in them immediately. Bob Acevedo stood out as being particularly inventive, including his reactions to being hit on by Lex Morales in a recurring scene.

Jessie Spellmann, previously in Varsity, a group born from UCB students who banded together, reaped a lot of laughter as she was put in a position of playing Santa, as various much-bigger physically group members took turns playing children sitting on her lap.

The Shoves have had a couple personnel changes, welcoming new member Gavin Speiller (formerly of UCB team Mailer Daemon), and their dynamic appears to have changed a bit -- not as hyper-kinetic as it once was, but still just as sharp as ever. The group now seems to take its time and let the scenes breathe more, while still working off the same sense of humor and meanings of scenes as it had.

Erik Tanouye and Angeliki George, playing flirting math nerds in a scene, explored the characters longer, reaping gems like George’s “It’s hard to meet someone I equate to.” Later, they revisited and heightened these characters, having them imprisoned as spies, George got in another laugh line, musing that if she were pregnant, they would still have nine months to escape.

Charlie Sanders hit a consistent riff, well-supported by other Shoves members, posing as a plastic surgeon and other sensitive occupations, getting called out as the ‘real’ professional in question would arrive in scenes.

Watching the Shoves in the midst of an apparent shifting of gears promises new frontiers, and seeing Beatrice jell from its mix of personalities holds equal promise.



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