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Finding Their Way

Newly reformed UCB long-form improv teams struggle to come into their own

Continuing to look at the newly formed or re-formed improv teams at the UCB Theatre, Beatrice, a slightly newer group, was recently paired with 1985, which has some more veteran members of groups at the theater.

Beatrice, which debuted in late November 2005, has changed its membership a bit, with Amber Petty and Greg DeSantis among the new members. The group’s aim is still a little scattershot, although member Nate Lang deploys a masterfully cool deadpan in reaction to other group members in scenes. Beatrice also found a highlight with Nick Ross as a pot smoker improbably eluding a clueless school principal.

1985 includes former Shoves members Risa Sangurai, Erik Tanouye and Gavin Speiller, with other theater veterans Will Hines, Porter Mason, Flynn Barrison and Sue Galloway. Sangurai and Tanouye highlighted the show as a brother and sister under the tragic circumstances of losing their parents in a house fire (stemming right from the audience suggestion), mining comedy even from such a dark idea. She took the turn of being more concerned with replacing a Halloween costume, and later, to great effect, he tries to give her the “birds and bees” talk but is baffled himself because he’s only 14.

Overall, 1985 doesn’t miss a beat in performance, although they have not yet jelled into a kinetic, frenetic and telepathic group like the Shoves. Given time though, all the ingredients are there.

All in all, if one put some of the new teams into the Cage Match contests the UCB does late on Thursday nights, Creep -- reviewed last week -- would be the favorite to come out on top for sheer aptitude and nerve. The newest teams are still feeling their way to higher levels, and others like 1985 simply need to develop the chemistry at the level where they are.



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