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Free To Decide

UCB offers a choice on Monday nights: Three accomplished improvisers showing a lot of edge, or an amusing but constrained group spoofing documentaries.


The members of Liberty Inn, a new trio at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater comprised of Chris Gethard, Anthony King and Zach Woods (each a member of another larger improv team at UCB), are skilled at finding counterpoints to each other.


In their performance October 10 paired off with documentary-form improv group B-Rollís Fact or Fiction show, they immediately established themselves as three old friends who didnít see each other very often and were having dinner Ė one of whom is now happily married with a kid while the other two still languish in lonely single-hood.


Gethard casually tossed out the idea that his character is suicidal, while King reveals that his was suicidal a few years back until he met his wife, so they arenít afraid to go dark; and Gethard expanded the world by also shifting into the role of the waitress serving everyone, who seemed ultra-naÔve.


Liberty Inn, which will play again with B-Roll next week, is interesting to see mainly because it puts together these adept improvisers who arenít in the same group and produces colors that they might not get to show with their regular teams.


B-Roll delivers a good variation on typical long-form improvisation. Groups like UCBís Real Real World and MC2ís Character Dog Run deliver whole shows where each group member plays a character, but they plan those characters in advance, just the action itself gets improvised. B-Roll carries exact characters created on the spot through the whole improvisation within a tight format of putting the action in the context of an imaginary documentary film.


B-Roll does rely on a certain structure to frame its improvisation, immediately casting one member as a narrator, and giving each duo that does something an immediate second beat Ė with the first beat lit more intimately and the second beat with the whole cast lit behind the duo.


As B-Rollís performance unfolded, each duoís story was then revisited in no particular order and eventually the duos interacted, all within the context of a documentary about the lives of workers in an Office Max store and others whose lives intersected there.


Cody Melton of the group hit on a good satirical point about Office Max owning its sidewalk and parking lot as well, affecting the efforts of Porter Masonís hippie protestor character. Also, the lighting technician was indispensable to B-Roll by alternating the aforementioned spotlights and bright full lighting with fadeouts for the scenes, adding to the filmic feel.


Still, while amusing, B-Roll only flirted with the type of edge that Liberty Inn seems to have down pat in its improv. It would be interesting to see how they might fare with pre-defined characters.


B-Roll: Fact or Fiction runs again 8 p.m. Mondays, October 17 with Liberty Inn and October 24 with Five Dudes.










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