Theater Review: 'Just Desserts'

 

Theater Review: 'Just Desserts'

 

Date: October 12, 2011
by: Paula Atwell | Theater Critic

 
 

 

What would you do to win a luscious cupcake the size of a baby’s head? Break-dance for 30 seconds? Spit on a gerbil? Lick a gravestone?

The cast of Florida Studio Theatre’s latest improv comedy show, “Just Desserts,” did all of the above and more opening night.

The show is organized into improvised scenes based on theater games, with a designated performer assuming the role of director. The audience shouts “Yes!” or “No!” at the end of each scene, and the director is rewarded or penalized. At the end of the show, the winning director receives his or her “just desserts.”

The opening-night audience members were delighted by the antics of the “sugar-holics” assembled to entertain them. My neighbor, who’d never seen live improv before, declared to me, “I loved it.”

The show was as funny as a mouthful of marshmallows, which came spouting out of the maw of Adam Ratner during one scene. “Just Desserts” was appropriately full of spit-takes — ah, my favorite. Two guys chewing, like chipmunks, an entire box of crackers, without swallowing, produced the most sidesplitting minutes I ever spent in a theater. A close second was Ratner in a subway musical scene in which he had to spit-take a mouthful of water before singing.

Ratner has been performing improv in various guises at FST since he was a “wee lad.” He is the co-author of the children’s play, “Jack and the Enchanted Beanstalk,” also currently in production at the theater.

“Just Desserts” is directed by Jeremy Lamb, a veteran of Second City; director of Available Cupholders, an Austin,Texas,-based improv troupe; and executive producer of Austin’s Out of Bounds Comedy.

Under his direction, the first scene was an interview with an expert on unicycles, featuring Christine Alexander as the interpreter for the deaf. As one example of Alexander’s notoriety for this scene, her “sign language” for the word “Sarasota” is an elderly person using a walker.

A founding member of FST and Lazy Fairy improv troupes, Alexander produces AnythingArts.com and Back Patio Productions.

Steve Turrisi, who was rightly belittled by his teammates as a first-time director and made to call his dad, who happened to be in the audience, nevertheless claimed the giant cupcake in the end. He is, after all, apparently the only person in the troupe capable of performing any type of sound effects.

As chock-full of nutty deliciousness as the performances were, the show should have allowed the audience members to compete for a cupcake as well. A scene called “Arms” was especially successful, thanks to the efforts of two onlookers chosen to go on stage to serve as the arms of two performers. The more animated the arms, the funnier the scene.

 

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