For the last three years I've been performing and watching more and more improv. Before 2014 it was just something I knew existed but never participated in or really watched. Since 2014, I've fallen in love with the art form and try to consume it as much as I can, either on stage or in an audience. When you dive into an art form like this you notice trends, recurring themes, and styles. In this environment when you see something that stands out you take notice. Interludes is just the kind of show that does that and it does it in a way I've never seen before. I'm still processing what I saw this past Saturday night, but it's nothing short of compelling.
The brainchild of Denzel Belin, Interludes is a wonderful blend of long form improv, music, and avant-garde storytelling. The cast of eight opened the show with an acapella chorus based on the audience suggestion of a hockey stick. The improvised bit of music ofplayed with the sounds of hockey from the cast was strangely beautiful and funny. Most importantly it set the tone for the rest of the show. The improv apcapella orchestra informed the audience that things were going to get weird in the best way possible.
The rest of the show was a series of two to three person scenes that the cast cut together beautifully. The cuts from scene to scene were so smooth and elegant they felt rehearsed and natural, the instincts to edit from the cast were impeccable. The true highlight and magic from the show came from the interludes themselves. During each scene one of the eight cast members on the back line could ring a bell (two on the stage, one in the back of the theater) and a musical interlude highlighting the inner thoughts and motivations of the characters in the scene. The format borrows a little DNA from the short form game "Narration" but on a much more surreal, musical, and artistic note. Once again the instincts and ideas from the cast in these interludes were fantastic. It often got strange, but the interludes always served the scenes, and added an element of humor and music I've never seen in an improv show. The best part was that the cast bought into this format the whole time, you never doubted their commitment to the format or their willingness make a scene pop. At times when an interlude of scene decision from one of the cast didn't click right away, the other cast members never let them flounder, they were right there behind them making goofy yet beautiful noises to support each other. Supportive and cooperative scene building at its best, you can tell the team worked hard to gel together and make it all work.
Every once in a while I foolishly think I have improv figured out. I feel like I understand the beats, the rhythm, and the teamwork. I have a moment, where I think "I've got this, I know exactly what I'm doing." Then something like Interludes comes along and I'm delightfully reminded that improv is an art form with no boundaries, and there are people who keep expanding what it can do. Interludes is a show that does just that, and reminded me I will never stop learning or being surprised by improv, and that is beautiful.
The show has been part of HUGE Theater's Saturday night lineup. They have one more show this Saturday, October 28th. You owe it to yourself to go see it, it is a must see for anyone who enjoys improv. This is something that has to been seen to believe.