THE NEIGHBORS IN: THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT, the Neighbors, at the Chopin Theatre. There's something dark and wonderful about the first fully scripted comedy revue by this improv troupe, a show that includes repeating bits about sadistic research scientists, libidinous alcoholic housewives, annoying elevator operators, even a hapless, well-meaning ex-con who keeps getting jacked around by a parole officer with a crush on him. It's as if the seven actors who make up the Neighbors (and who wrote the show collectively) decided to fill this piece with every nightmare that ever disturbed their sleep and every primal fear that ever sent a shiver up their spines.
Sadly, the show's twisted cynicism hardly makes up for the fact that all the sketches run too long and precious few have punch lines with any real punch. To make matters worse, the quality of the Neighbors' acting varies incredibly, from the pretty good Mary McCain and Jeremy Hornik, who's very funny as the increasingly frustrated ex-con, to John Mulhern, who needs a lot more seasoning before he can capitalize on his Michael Palin-ish demeanor.
You have only to watch ten minutes of The Human Experiment crawl by to know in your bones that it's quite a jump from improvising shows to performing the same scripted material night after night. --Jack Helbig