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Star of the Spectacular

Among accomplished players in a Magnet Theater show, Rebecca Drysdale stands out.

The players in the Magnet Theater’s early Saturday night show, Tiny Spectacular, are a bit uneven in their ability levels and have yet to mesh as a group -- in the way that member Jason Mantzoukas’ other group, Mother at the UCB Theatre, does.

Mantzoukas is joined by a few other top notch performers, Rebecca Drysdale, Miriam Tolan and Rachel Hamilton, while a couple others, Christine Walters and Jean Villepique flail away without sure-handedly presenting characters or fitting into the scenes they get in. (Group members Ed Herbstman, James Eason and Tara Copeland were absent from their most recent show).

Tolan fits characters into the group’s scenes without hesitation, immediately becoming a snide nurse with attitude, and filling in with support at key moments, as a walk-on martial artist and pramk phone caller in other scenes, providing some glue between different stories presented in the performance.

Together, the group did successfully weave a few funny stories together, returning periodically to some of their plots. Just as often though, the members ended up saying “I don’t know” when another made a cultural reference they just weren’t up on, or responded to each other with questions, which is usually the first “don’t” taught in Improv 101 classes.

But what makes Tiny Spectacular worth seeing is Drysdale, who portrayed, in delightfully warped fashion, a haughty hairstylist as well as a “vaguely Slavic torturer,” ably supported by Mantzoukas, but clearly Drysdale was the leader in the scene. At another point, she pulled off an over-the-top Asian accent and somehow did so without being offensive. Drysdale can also play on a more restrained level, as a student in a dating “class,” noting offhandedly with black humor, “I hit 9/11 in the date like you said, and he still didn’t like me…”

It’s truly a wonder how Drysdale’s mind works. She is the standout in this group and it would be good to see her in a sketch or even solo show -- or with improv players of the highest caliber. 



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