T.J. and Dave | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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T.J. and Dave

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Lots of people do improv. Most don't do it very well: they're content to mug and show off the way the players do on Whose Line Is It Anyway? But there's another, more evolved kind of improv practiced by people with the confidence and patience and guts to let the improvisation lead them--the style of "slow improvisation" sometimes advocated by the late Del Close at ImprovOlympic. Two former students of his, David Pasquesi and T.J. Jagodowski, have now put together a show in which they push the idea of long, slow improv to its limit. The night I caught it, they managed to pull rich, multilayered characters out of thin air. (Of course, Pasquesi is a world-class actor--notably as Roma in Steppenwolf's fine revival of Glengarry Glen Ross a year ago--and Jagodowski is one of Second City's more intellectually agile performers.) In less than an hour, they constructed a subtle, moving, dryly funny four-character Pinteresque domestic drama involving an unhappy wife, an angry husband, and two nubile young men that was seething with unstated sexual longing. Brilliant. For anyone familiar with the art of improvisation, it was thrilling to watch these two veterans of a thousand freeze-tag games sensitively, painstakingly discover, line by line, gesture by gesture, who they were, what they were doing onstage, and what their relation was to the other person. Not once did either one go for a quick, easy joke or spoil a scene by denying, either consciously or accidentally, the other. ImprovOlympic, 3541 N. Clark, 773-880-0199. Open run: Wednesdays, 10:30 PM. $5.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Rep3.com.

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