Virgil's House of Dig | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Virgil's House of Dig 

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VIRGIL'S HOUSE OF DIG, Faulty Wiring, at ImprovOlympic Theater. Who knows? Maybe the week before I saw this show the nine comics convulsed the audience. And this week they may well bust some guts. But the Friday I saw Faulty Wiring's Virgil's House of Dig, three long-form improvisations, the ImprovOlympic house team must have been on some kind of comic strike. As if allergic to any prolonged outbreaks of hilarity, they generally ignored audience suggestions, resorting instead to unproductive confrontations, simulated violence, and insult humor. (Maybe they'd just seen Natural Born Killers.)

The suggestion "mutual respect" degenerated into the pursuit of a maniac stalking college kids in the woods. Initially the chosen locale, the "fifth dimension," produced detailed cinematic depictions of characters with irritating omniscience, telepathy, and precognition--but then this improv turned into a radio-station hostage drama no more intelligent than the dreadful one in the movie Airheads.

The third improv opened promisingly with an eloquent evocation of the soul of a grandfather clock but ended up contrasting without connecting two men, one terrified of his mortality, the other trying to keep his grandmother from learning that he isn't a yuppie. Again, scenes of idiotic violence prevented the plot from dovetailing into a rounded Harold. True, there was little pointless repetition, but that couldn't excuse the lack of forward motion. Several lush setups were more fascinating than anything that happened--a ton of atmosphere to an ounce of wit. You didn't have to be there.

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