Reviews - Fringe 2016

Fringe 2016 Review: Act One, Scene Two

By Arthur Bullock
Published July 18, 2016

One of the most important parts of any form of media is giving the audience something they want to see. This is already true with all plays, but in "Act One, Scene Two", The Understudies take the concept to its logical extreme by making it the entire premise of their show. Through improv comedy - which is all made up on the spot, as the same suggests - they create a performance which is different for each audience.

At the start of the show, The Understudies act as though they were the actual understudies of famous actors - none of whom actually showed up to perform. The improv is framed as a last-minute effort to give the audience a good show, and the audience does indeed play an especially important role in determining the content of each scene - even compared to other improv shows.

Members of the audience are called up on stage, where they're asked a series of dynamic questions about their favourite movie or television show. The responses they receive are then used in the next scene.

Each point made by an audience member is written down on a whiteboard, which is visible throughout the show. At the end, they do one big scene that attempts to use every single point on the whiteboard, with an audience member crossing off points as they're used

The cast is very good at staying in character. The moment the audience entered the theater, they had taken on their understudy personae. They also gave the members of the audience a lot of freedom with their responses, by asking very broad questions.

It's generally not easy to analyze the humour of an improv show, because each scene is so different from the others. However, the audience was laughing throughout the show, so evidently they did something right.

In any case, it's a well-organized with a cast of clever performers, so I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys comedy.

Arthur Bullock is a graduate of Communication Studies at McMaster University. As a reviewer, he combines his two favourite hobbies: theatre and writing.


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