For months, my 10-year-old has been looking forward to seeing Impulse, Oregon Children’s Theatre’s Improvisational Troupe. He loves the concept of improv—no scripts; just settings, characters, or themes given on the spot—and the hilarity that might ensue.
The troupe did not disappoint. For more than an hour, seven quick-thinking, sharp-witted members of OCT’s Young Professionals Company tickled our funny bone. Before each bit, one performer explained the theme—like a soap opera with sarcastic commentary, or three interviews in a documentary—and turned to the audience for suggestions: for the soap opera scene, a car accident; and for the documentary, the Naked Bike Ride. (Kudos to the performers for keeping it clean and family-friendly.) The group gave us lots of laughs, with wacky characters, silly situations, and groan-inducing jokes.
The talented teenagers, most of whom are from the Portland area, flexed their impressive comedic chops. But they can’t do it without the audience, so be ready to shout out your original ideas. At this performance, callouts for anything related to Star Wars were turned down. (One performer said something like, “We do that one a lot.”). Take a cue from the troupe: think fast but don’t think too hard. Even a trip to the grocery store (maybe on the moon) can be funny.
If you’re not the shouting-out type, you can still get in on the action. Before the show starts, jot a line on a slip of paper, and your words might be randomly incorporated into a sketch. When they used mine (“It’s 8:01,” and “Is that your real hair?”), my son turned to me with an excited look, so proud of my three-second role in the show.
This show is advised for ages 7 and up. The content is squeaky clean, but younger kids may have trouble keeping up with the fast-and-furious pace and snappy back-and-forths. Still, this is a great intro to improv and a terrific way for young viewers to see what amazing things older kids can do. Your young improv fan might ask to go again, as my son did. It’s not a bad idea. Tickets are reasonably priced, and no two shows will be alike.
Impulse performs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through May 20 (and on Thursday, May 17) at the YP Studio Theater (part of OCT’s main office). Free street parking is available. There’s no late seating, and the show runs 65 minutes with no intermission.
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