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Dynamic Duo

Scott & Ellie project lots of energy in PIT duo improv show.

Although they can run on a little too long at some of the bits they find, the improv duo Scott & Ellie do project a lot of enthusiastic energy and distinct skill at capturing the funny absurdities of situations and playing those up successfully.

Performing at the People’s Improv Theater in the 8 p.m. Saturday night slot (to which they return on April 22), Scott Eckert and Ellie Kemper gave themselves more fodder to work with by using full sentences selected randomly from a stack of books as their improv suggestions. The first sign of life was Scott seizing on a character constantly claiming himself to be a “manly man” while acting as feminine as possible, espousing unisex cologne CK1 as the secret to his manliness.

After establishing a few pairs of characters from a few different suggestions, Scott & Ellie returned a few times to each pair, at first adding more to their worlds, but in the last go-round seemingly finding themselves at a bit of a loss for what more to do with them -- going to pulling out all kinds of random props sitting back stage, veering into schtick and clowning rather than improv.

Emblematic of this was a pair of male loggers the duo played, who like Scott’s “manly man,” played up their masculinity while constantly running back to “base” for luxuries. By the last appearance of this pair, though, the random props came into play. Some pairs of characters fared better than others when it came to the duo knowing what more could be told of their story. If the duo didn’t have an idea, they got by on the mannerisms and quirks. With their energy, Scott & Ellie do entertain, but hopefully they will hone the storytelling needed when revisiting pairs of characters as the format for their improv.

In the show preceding Scott & Ellie, called Psychic Improv, the sealing of the suggestion in an envelope, forcing the trio of Boston-based performers to in effect make their own suggestion (and see later if it matched) became something of a red herring. This group has a little further to go -- the scenes they presented tended to play too much just with a phrase or an idea without really exploring what the characters meant to each other or what the stakes of scenes were -- which are the roads to bigger laughs.

Psychic Improv performs at 7 p.m. and Scott & Ellie perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 at the People’s Improv Theater.

 

 
   

     

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