Best Improviser

Critics' Picks


Blaine Swen

If the Improvised Shakespeare Company (open run: Fridays, 8 PM, iO, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199, improvisedshakespeare.com, $14) produces some of the most emotionally textured improv around—and it does—then a lot of the credit has to go to its mastermind, Blaine Swen. He’s a force to be reckoned with onstage, sensitive to every word spoken and every action even so much as hinted at. His ease with Shakespeare’s language and themes ensures stories rich with twists, turns, and laughs, and his attention to detail is a huge reason ISC shows tie up so neatly at the end. BASH!, the one-man, improvised musical he performed last year at iO, was full of the wounded old souls and sweetly naive jesters he so eloquently plays with the ISC—and, not surprisingly, turned out to be a rousing success. He also appears with the Deltones, iO’s musical improv troupe (open run: Saturdays, 8 PM, chicago.ioimprov.com, $14), and his sensibilities elevate their work too.


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