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Selling the Drama

Self-proclaimed 'improvisers of tragedy,' Harsh, have added a lighter comedic touch to their work.

Harsh, from left: Mikal Reich, Eileen Malone, Kassi Dougherty, Evan Morgenstern, John Montague, Betsy Stover, Lauren Hunter and Michael Marinoff

Harsh, the improvised tragedy group, has made a wise move away from strictly dramatic improvisations, toward performances that still have tragic aspects but largely aim toward comedic improv, judging by the first show of several Mondays they are booked at the People’s Improv Theater over the next two months.

Mikal Reich and John Montague exemplified this balance from the very beginning of the show as a duo watching a burglary take place across the street from their house, and Reich reacts with an anxious freak-out as Montague urges him to do something. Then Montague is injured shaving, and Reich’s anxiety keeps him from doing anything at all.

Betsy Stover got it as well as a crazed hostile mother to Lauren Hunter as her daughter, moving them again after losing a fifth job in just as many towns in one year. Hunter’s sad refrain “I just started making friends here” dryly sets the scene.

And Michael Marinoff with Kassi Dougherty were excellent counterparts as a spacey yet authoritative son and a worried mom trying to find a file for her job without which she would be fired. Marinoff stays oblivious to the idea that college is something she pays for and has to work for.

Technically, Harsh overuses a device in which scenes begin simultaneously with the endings of previous scenes, which can make it hard to follow either one, but they also do this less now than they used to. However, for the finale of this performance, it worked at putting three different storylines together side by side after they were already presented in detail.



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