Improv troupe delights audiences
May 6, 2012
Local improv troupes Dragon Viper Cobra and Fancy Dinosaurs attacked their audience with animalistic humor during a live performance at Under the Sun Studios in Concord on Friday, April 27.
The concept behind the two troupes is a simple one, according to Bobby Jennings, a co-cpatain and coach of both teams.
When asked what the madness was all about, Jennings described their troupes as “people going to DVC who love improv, getting together to do improv.” Jennings described improv as an “art form that doesn’t get a lot of respect.”
The primitive method, however, worked for audiences who immediately embraced the experience. The quaint theatre was hidden in a warehouse behind a shopping center that gave no clues to what treasures lie inside. Stage lights traveled from above the stage back above the audience. The wooden risers seemed handcrafted like the stage, creating an atmosphere of the audience physically being part of the show.
As both troupes performed, audience participation was encouraged and given in ample supply. The audience provided suggestions for character traits and other elements of the games performed on stage, creating a show that could not be recreated.
The Fancy Dinosaurs started the night off with an enjoyable performance. The troupe seemed young and unseasoned, which is okay, because they are young and unseasoned.
“Fancy Dinosaurs are like, a younger [Dragon Viper Cobra]…but, they’ve been gaining a lot of respect with their own talent,” Jennings said.
The actors did well to try to control their blocking and listen to each other in the scene, but their efforts showed through, which made it difficult to fully suspend disbelief.
They established rules for their improv games, such as establishing a certain line or character that needed to be use in the scene, but then quickly ignored those rules.
The audience did not seem to mind as the uninhibited nature was well received.
The humor throughout the show was full of alternative pop culture references to video games and the television show “Dr. Who.” Puns were used quite effectively throughout the night by both troupes.
During a dating show skit, an actor had to guess the character traits of the contestants, who pretended to be animated lamps.
“I dated a chandelier and he thought too highly of himself,” Keeler Dean Curtice said during the skit.
The second half of the performance showcased the talents of Dragon Viper Cobra, who immediately boosted up the energy level in the house.
They did a couple skits and it was instantly obvious that they had done this before.
The troupe worked through scenes using pantomime and gibberish to tell a story then communicate it with other actors like playing “telephone.”
Greg Reasoner, co-captain of both teams with Bobby Jennings, really carried the team through every scene with his solid performance, but the other actors did do well to hold their own.
In one pantomime sketch, Reasoner used an imaginary DS game, “Set It Down” to continue the scene, then came back to it toward the end of the scene to continue the joke, displaying a knowledge of smart humor and efficiency.
The troupes sprouted from one idea with roots at Diablo Valley College, but could not be held in captivity for long and eventually moved on to perform regularly at Under the Sun Studios.
“We played a lot of weird stuff before we played here,” Jennings said.
Both Fancy Dinosaurs and Dragon Viper Cobra had a great sense of what they and their audiences found as funny and delightful. The troupes had their audience smiling throughout the night. This show proved that local entertainment can always be unexpected.
Catch a Dragon Viper Cobra and Fancy Dinosaurs performing at a theatre near you. Check out their facebook page at Facebook.com/