Schmitterville Theatre Hour | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Schmitterville Theatre Hour


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Body Gun, Ltd., at Stage Left Theatre.

Schmitterville is a fictional place, but its apparent belief in the virtues of communal cooperation and mutual tolerance perhaps helps explain the refreshing lack of spotlight grabbing and grandstanding by its remarkably affable denizens--really the cast of this "fully improvised" revue.

Their teamwork is evident when Todd Milliner and Vince Mulvihill supply the dialogue for a scene while Sarah Morello and Michele Suffredin simultaneously provide the action, the four synchronizing their contributions so well that only once are we aware of who's leading. Another exercise requires a dialogue to be forged from speeches beginning with successive letters of the alphabet--in most improv groups, a task divided among several performers. But here it's accomplished by only Milliner and Mulvihill. On the other hand, an exercise that proposes a fable based on Gone With the Wind quickly abandons Miss Scarlett and her milieu to degenerate into a standard-issue Fractured Fairy Tale. And in an evening of predominantly verbal humor Suffredin relies too heavily on eccentric gestures and delivery.

The second part of this 90-minute program is made up of short sketches on a common theme featuring assorted Schmitterville personalities. None of them is the expected hee-haw hick of too much recent improv comedy; instead, each emerges as a quirky but never caricatured or mean-spirited ambassador from a town that seems a right nice place to visit.

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