Bevy, ImprovOlympic. Clearly out to challenge the Admiral Theatre's status as the place to see an all-girl revue at 10:30 on a Sunday night, ImprovOlympic presents this troupe of nine women playing a version of long-form improvisation punctuated by what appear to be group hugs and relay races. Company members solicit an audience suggestion, which they then ignore in the traditional manner of improv troupes. Instead they group up, using their bodies collectively to form a mechanism or creature, complete with swooshing, popping, and slurping noises. This living tableau gives way to a brief scene, which is then swallowed up in the next tableau, which in turn yields yet another scene, and so on through the allotted 45 minutes. The hope is that these alternating elements will dovetail into something amusing and maybe even coherent.
Well, there was sporadic evidence of both amusement and coherence on the night I saw Bevy. Talent and smarts, too. A bit about a 14-year-old's sexual competition with her slutty mother grew into a creepily effective portrait of a traumatized psyche. A Girl Scout reunion expressed a surreal wit. And Shannon Winpenny was great as a redneck on the make. But there was a big problem. The tableaux were often inscrutable--and so baldly reminiscent of a certain elementary improv exercise that they worked against the group's credibility, creating the impression that the performers were less accomplished than at least some of them actually are. The format sank the show.