Social Grenade | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Social Grenade


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SOCIAL GRENADE, at Prop Thtr. You can get away with almost anything in improv as long as everyone is in on the game, as evidenced by the troupe Social Grenade. Its members begin their 30-minute fully improvised one-act with choices that would doom less expert players. The actors spend most of the scene sitting around a table pretending to be at a restaurant talking, which both limits and expands their universe. This approach often results in a long, poorly structured piece featuring lots of aimless, tiresome talk with a couple of arguments thrown in as the players become frustrated with the lack of focus and energy. The situation also reduces the options for movement and mimed object work.

Yet these guys succeed not only in re-creating the look and feel of a gang of close friends lingering over a meal but in making it interesting. As they shoot the breeze they reveal the dozens of tiny dramas in their lives--minor disappointments, hidden fears, hopeless hopes--that add up to a fascinating group portrait. This may not sound like much, but the patience these folks display as each member adds another brushstroke and the faith they show in one another's work are all too rare. As a result no one panics and deflates the drama with a silly joke or some other desperate attempt to "save" the scene.

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