The “Blood and Vodka” improv show proved so popular Saturday evening that even before the 7:30 p.m. opening, many people were sitting on mats on the floor and others were not able to be seated at all. The improv show, a project through the Theatre department and held in Studio Theatre, was organized as part of an effort to create student-run improv groups on campus.
Each segment of the show began with a short soliloquy by one of the members of the group.
“In my country you are not allowed to take bathroom breaks. In Russia, the bathroom breaks you,” junior Ben Lee said in a heavy Russian accent during the opening soliloquy of the evening.
The soliloquies, all set in Soviet Russia, provided a framework for the show as a whole and also the inspiration for the name of the show. The show broke roughly into two halves. The first half was made up of short-form improv games like film dubs (where two members of the group do a scene in a made-up language while two others narrate), puppeteer (where two members are silent “puppets,” two audience members move them around and two other improv members narrate the action), world’s worst (where a theme is picked and members describe the “worst” of that theme) and line time (group members perform a scene while interspersing lines provided to them beforehand by the audience).
The second half of the show was a long-format improv scene involving all the group members switching in and out of roles in a setting picked by the audience. In Saturday’s performance, the setting was an iceberg and involved a corrupt scientist, his assistant, his nephew, warlike Eskimos, lost spring-breakers and the native equivalent of Facebook, wherein the actual faces of their enemies (removed from their owners, of course) were stored.
While the story of the long-form act was strange, the overarching narrative hung together very well, and the group received an enthusiastic response from the audience. “I really liked the extended scene and audience input,” sophomore Robyn Wright said.
One of the main “props” of the long-form improv was a pantomime sheet of glass used by senior Ernie LoBue’s Eskimo shaman to light fires.
“Well, I needed to summon fire, and I thought it’d be funnier if I did it with something stolen from the [scientific] expedition — otherwise it moves into the magical, and that’s just too easy,” LoBue said.
Reception to the show as a whole was also positive. “It was a very interesting combination of personalities, and the way it came together surprised me in a very good way,” said Admission’s Counselor Sarah Colangelo, ‘10.
Speaking about the troupe’s performance, Lee said, “I think tonight was a good night. I was freaking out at the beginning.”
Another troupe member, junior Isaac Miller said that the best moment of the night was “sawing off my own face; I knew after that I wasn’t responsible [for the scene] anymore.”