Three presents an hilarious balance of improvised and scripted comedy that profits from the skill with which it straddles this boundary.
Plants, a new company comprised of improv veterans, has brought its members’ shared experience to bear on a loosely scripted piece that in its structure reminds me of a short story sequence, where each individual story contributes to the feel and theme of the piece as a whole, without relying on the ties between them.
By choosing to script a general layout for the show, the performers avoid one of the common pitfalls of improv, of being plot-focused. Following from this choice, there is no longer pressure either to advance the plot line, or temptation to get lost in details and rush into a conclusion, not to mention that they can avoid getting trapped by ideas provided by the audience that are perhaps less-than-favourable.
This enables the improvisational skills of the performers to shine through in the individual interactions between them. Herein lies the other benefit of straddling the improv/scripted boundary: the actors are extremely present with one another in their attempts to read and riff off of what their scene partner is offering. Furthermore, by tying everything from the previous skits together in the closing, the show is given a cohesion that is sometimes lacking from improv shows.
All the individual performances are strong in this show. I was never left feeling bored for a moment, and the performers even managed to bring a lot of emotional relevance to their choices, which is rare enough in theatre, to say nothing of improvised sketches. Hayley Robateau was particularly noteworthy for her supporting roles, feeding some really excellent ideas to her co-performer, though it would have been nice to see her shine a bit more on her own. I was also pleased about the sophisticated level of humour in this show; I don’t recall hearing even one dick joke.
In general, Three does a lot of good work freshening up both improv and scripted comedy through its strong performances. It would be great to see it do more; more physicality given to the individual characters, greater diversity in some of the female roles, and more cheese sandwhiches.
Presented by Plants
Created and Performed by Jordan Moffatt, Hayley Robateau, & Christian Glas