Sheila's Giant Wall of Plot Twists | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Sheila's Giant Wall of Plot Twists

by

comment

When the folks at Sheila, who'd been improvising every Wednesday at Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap in Hyde Park, opened their north-side show a little over a year ago, they had a great gimmick--the "giant wall of plot twists"--and a lot of charm and spunk but not much else. They depended for laughs on cuteness, sheer spontaneity, and the easy absurdity of working a randomly chosen plot twist ("a sudden death" or "a love scene," for example) into an improvised sketch that had hitherto been about, say, two guys arguing over a chainsaw. But time has seasoned Sheila: their characters are stronger, more multifaceted. Edmund O'Brien has become particularly adept at creating people who would not be out of place in a serious drama. Spike Kunetz and John Pierson have evolved from a tall/short team who got easy laughs just by being onstage together to a self-assured comedy duo capable of winning big laughs with the subtlest physical bits. Even more impressive is the intelligent, confident way these six performers play with their long-form improvisations, taking the sort of risks that would trip up less experienced troupes. The night I most recently saw them perform, O'Brien was playing a kid lost for years in a mall: popping onstage for extraordinarily short blackout scenes--kid running breathlessly through mall--he was at once hilarious and essential to the main story, about a mother's decade-long halfhearted search for the difficult child. This week's show has a special Easter/Passover theme. Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, Lab Theater, 3319 N. Clark, 327-5588. Open run: Saturdays, 10:30 PM. $7.

Add a comment