What's Your Problem Owl? | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

What's Your Problem Owl? 

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WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM OWL?, pH Productions, at Stage Left Theatre. Things come funnier in threes, or so goes a well-known tenet of comedy. This rule of thumb has been enshrined in much long-form improv: it's pretty much SOP to revisit a situation or trope three times over three approximate acts. And like countless other formulas, this one has undoubtedly proved useful in crafting much great scripted comedy, from the Second City to SNL and beyond.

But effectively xeroxing a tidied-up Harold and calling it a sketch revue is a bad idea. Case in point: What's Your Problem Owl? The brute strength of the triple structure, which often saves the day in the messy real-time improv arena, becomes a sterile bludgeon in Owl's prerehearsed context. Instead of heightening the initial scenarios, the scenes seem rather to idly iterate their ideas, which unfortunately aren't especially fresh or well developed to begin with. And if the overdeliberate, underembellished pattern of the hour-plus show is dispiriting by the second go-round, it's excruciating by the third. The pH crew are undeniably excellent improvisers, but judging by this show, they're not yet ready to write their own material.

Opening the evening was Dollprov, Tristan Tanner and Molly Hall in a short pajama-party improv. Playing kids stage-managing a stuffed-animal epic, their winning routine was reminiscent of actual child's play, charming even when it failed to tickle.

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