Regina has an impressive improv community, whether it be General Fools or just the monthly Combat Improv performances. So, it’s really surprising when someone from out of town manages to be the highlight of a Combat Improv show.
So, congratulations are in order to Arlen Konopaki and Amy Shostak for their two-person improv performance the other night. They killed it, with a wide-ranging series of improvs that were hilarious. Their current show in the Shumiatcher Sandbox at the Globe Theatre is every bit as exciting, funny, and kinetic.
The two come from Edmonton, AB, where they’re a part of Rapid Fire Theatre and where this piece debuted back in 2007. Konopaki and Shostak play Walter Boyles and Ester Horse, as well an array of periphery characters. Upon arriving in Toronto, the two have aspirations for success – Walter wants to be a successful businessman, while Ester hopes to make a name for herself as an actress – and when their lives don’t take the path they were expecting, they find each other.
While onstage at Combat Improv, the two actors explained that the show was developed through improv. That was exactly the right way to do it. A Watched Pot has so many benefits that you’d find in an improv show, like the spontaneity and excitement of discovery, and this makes the show dense with jokes and off-hand, a lot of which have wild premises. The show exists in this comedic-fantasy world, where non-sequiturs and absurd bits are dropped in on occasion but are taken entirely seriously by Walter and Ester.
But, the show is still scripted. Imagine, then, a couple of great improvisers who get the opportunity to take some of their best moments, craft them into a narrative that sticks together and to cut out all of the dead moments. There, you have A Watched Pot, a play that twists well-known and much-used styles into a sweet and hilarious story.
Beyond that, this is also a really tight performance. There’s little-to-no downtime between scenes, which themselves are almost all brief and snappy. I can only imagine how taxing of a performance this must be on the actors, especially with synchronized dialogue and dancing appearing more than once throughout the play.
A Watched Pot Never Boyles is hugely imaginative, constantly reinventing itself without ever loosing the audience. Konopaki and Shostak deserve a lot of credit for finding a way to capture the spirit of their best improvisations while also making a structure and interesting piece.
They’re class-acts when it comes to improv, but when tasked with putting together a larger whole, they shine.
A Watched Pot Never Boyles is being performed on Oct. 22 and 23, as well as Oct. 27 through 29. Check out the Globe Theatre’s website for more information.