Boom Chicago

Gilded Balloon II Upstairs - Venue 38

Another impro review - this time of a Chicago group who have made their home in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. To give you a basic idea of the framework - some of it is scripted - little sketches, a short slide show of bizarre Dutch product names. Some is improvised, but on a semi-scripted foundation - an example of this is that they do a five-minute Titanic remake (Leonardo di Caprio exclaiming "I have gone through puberty, I have!") reminiscent of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and then go on to do this again, but in different styles as suggested by the audience. They show a wide and accurate knowledge of film and literary styles - I was a little annoyed however by the person taking the suggestions occasionally putting one in that had not been suggested by us. A very small point in what was otherwise the best and most innovative impro show I have seen in a long while.

Another very interesting game is taking various things from different audience members, including name, job, a passion that they have, where they live etc., and making this into two people - very confused people, as you would imagine. At least they admit they don't know where Ripon is.

One of the main themes of this show is as they put it "an insight into the American psyche" - sharp satire of such cultural traits as "the God-given right to sue anyone we want", and "if you see a Third World country you like - take it!". Don't get me wrong, this isn't a political show. They merely point out the ridiculous things that their country and their countrymen do in a very light-hearted and fun way - and the Americans in the audience seemed to be enjoying it too. They don't take sides - a short piece on Hong Kong features the bad points of China, the UK and the US.

Boom Chicago were helped enormously by the best impro audience I have seen in a long time - lots of really good suggestions like Ice Sculptor, Ingmar Bergman - makes a change from toilet brush and porn movie.

The show is cleverly paced and very slick. The fact that it is partly scripted gives it a structure for them to build on, and it works very well. The continuity is excellent, and they are very good at remembering suggestions and plot twists - very professional improvisation indeed. The characterisations and understanding of situations were concise and accurate. This, combined with an impro style unlike the usual styles we see, makes for a very refreshing change for the impro fan. Not a dull moment.

I had a short word with Greg Shore from Boom Chicago after the show - the results of that interview are coming soon, watch this space!

Back to the Reviews Index