published Sunday, March 8, 2015
Opening the ACT hour was the Bandwreckers, who had the unfortunate task of warming up an audience that had just spent 10 minutes waiting in the winter cold to enter the Stone Cottage theater. But the troupe’s women are resilient and enterprising.
From the audience suggestions of “barn” and “computer,” the Bandwreckers spun up a love triangle all bound up in social media. The betrayal among the circle of women having a retreat in a barn went strangely without much reaction. As usual with this troupe, the characters are instantly strong, but the laugh lines a bit lacking.
The Victims are a slow burn, starting solid and building to something just short of mayhem. Their improv format interviewed an audience “volunteer” and used the material to construct a long-form sketch. Friday’s volunteer, Patty, was not too forthcoming, but they ran with it.
It was a scramble at first, working plot ideas like slacker Christmas tree salesmen grousing about winter weather and dreaming of being alligator farmers in Florida. Once the tall B.K. and the small Swearingen started interacting, it didn’t matter what the plot became (something about the Louisiana Purchase). It was really all about vexing Swearingen. B.K. kept delivering his lines by walking behind Swearingen, sending him into inspired bouts of profanity-laced protests. The interplay was Fred and Ginger crossed with Mutt and Jeff.
At one point, John Rawley and Swearingen portrayed ex-lovers with word play that was just as graceful and dastardly funny. Swearingen played a character who had surgery to make himself look like a ‘80s he-man action figure with “80s he-man nipples.” He niftily puffed his body language to look all bulked up. With the hirsute Rawley in the female role, Swearingen enthusiastically nuzzled her/his neck fur and exclaimed “She doesn’t like it when you play with her beard.”
Alternative Comedy Theater performs again next weekend with the Mash ‘em Ups.
- 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 13
- 5 p.m. Saturday, March 14
View complete Out of the Loop Fringe Festival here