Dig | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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Dig, Goldbrick, at ImprovOlympic. Dave Gilley and Dan Sipp's newly formed "improv collective" shows a lot of promise in its first offering. Alternating comic scenes with grave snippets of candid monologue, Dig brings to life the world suggested by an audience-selected postcard (the night I attended, it showed a hubcap-filled storefront window). This scenario locks each cast member into a single role for the duration of the show and results in something like a sitcom episode shot in mockumentary style. It's a high-difficulty, potentially low-return undertaking, but the utterly relaxed nine-member ensemble makes it look easy.

The surefooted patience of their work has director Paul Grondy written all over it. As both teacher and performer he's championed character-based improv over flashy dynamics and reductive gamesmanship, and his experienced cast has taken this approach to heart. Eschewing quickness for its own sake, they let the humor rise from the situation and from consistently maintained psychological dispositions, rarely pushing for laughs or forcing things along. Once in a while the pace is too unhurried--the conclusion took a (pleasant) ten minutes longer than it needed to--but the discoveries made while on this slower, less traveled path justify dawdling. And while the newsmagazine-infomercial device of commenting on the story via brief confessional monologues has endless deadpan possibilities, it's an especially good fit here: comfortable just exploring their adopted personalities, many of the players find their best, funniest moments talking to themselves.


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