Reviews - Fringe 2019

Swipe Right for Love: A Musical Improv Show

By Alison Nicholson
Published July 24, 2019


The Understudies make improv look easy. The crew of Adriana Alfano, Kristi Boulton, Michael Divinski and Andrew Hopps intuitively read each other, and play to their strengths and that of each other.

Improv is not an art without practice or history. In the 1500s, a troupe of players known as Commedia Dell'Arte, a direct descendent of modern improv, travelled throughout the Italian countryside, where merriment ensued. The players employed a stereotyped plot with improvised dialogue, and stock characters such as Pantaloon, Harlequin, and Columbine.

The characters may have evolved but are just as recognizable today by a modern audience who kept filing in like a clown car gag, for the Understudies offering 'Swipe Right for Love.' What could be funnier than finding love with a zany cast of characters, guacamole and pizza? Let the games begin. Swiping your true love begins with an audience chosen profile, and the cast create the fireworks. I loved, Pam, the tight mini skirt clad dreamboat, with a dangling cigarette, and heavy five o'clock shadow. Red hot!!!

Always moving, it's comedy calisthenics, and action spontaneously inspired by audience participation. A clap and "break" this quick quipped quartet jump into action, creating rhymes set to music when stage manager, Rose Usenica, and the wizard of the keyboard, Steve McRae shout out 'sounds like a song'.

The music, comprising many show tune styles, never stumps these modest comedians who claim not to be singers but are witty, hilarious and in-tune - especially when Kristi Boulton shows off her impeccable pipes. Seriously, I think I saw them.

A Staircase staple and Fringe favorite, 'Swipe Right for Love,' at the Elaine Mae.

Alison recently wrote and performed, "Love, Loss and the shit in between" for Mind Play at the Staircase, Main Stage and has performed stand-up sketches for the Hammer First Timers at 'Zylas'. Acting credits include; "The Importance of Being Ernest," "Cakewalk," "Top Girls," "She Stoops to Conquer," "The Maids," and directed; "The Rivals," and "The House of Bernarda Alba." Alison directed "Der Zug" for the Hamilton Fringe written by Valerie Kay. The Pearl produced Alison's first original play "A Certain Slant of Light," directed by Annalee Flint. Alison reviewed the Fringe Gallery performances for the Hub in 2018. Alison's first Fringe experience was in Edinburgh, as lighting tech for the San Quentin Drama Workshop from the US. A graduate of McMaster University, Drama, Emmanuel College, U of T, and Niagara College school of technical theatre.

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