Brick: Further North, Brick Productions, at ImprovOlympic. Despite the many improvisers taking the stage in Chicago, there's a surprising dearth of original material. This is especially true of late-night offerings: the range of subjects deemed worthy of attention seems to shrink precipitously. Brick provides a welcome exception to this unhappy state of affairs with the clever Brick: Further North, written and performed by the company.
Cayne Collier, Megan Kellie, Tim Mason, and Marion Oberle all give detailed characterizations, work hard to establish physical settings, and demonstrate solid comic timing. The ensemble offers a hilarious perspective on the everyday, exploiting the humor in renting a moving van or watching a steamy sex scene with one's parents. In other highlights, two wives decide to finally admit their professional success to their husbands, an out-of-touch businessman dictates his replies to junk E-mail, and a fast-food employee puts a customer in her place, analyzing the concept of corporate domination, when she refuses to "supersize it."
Directed by Zach Ward, with technical direction by Jen Taylor, the show uses music to great effect both between scenes and within the sketches. A few bits run too long, and one shifts the energy awkwardly--a sporadically funny but heartfelt scene depicts a relationship from first date to the death of one spouse. But this is otherwise a high-momentum, highly entertaining show.