Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Hip.Bang Improv! (Fringe)

by Zoe Erwin-Longstaff

“Hegemony,” my obliging friend suggested, and HipBang, that is Tom and Devin the Vancouver improv duo, balked.  They asked for a definition and we provided one: dominance by a ruling class. The word was important, as it was to propel the next 45 minutes of spontaneous stage time. Hegemony might have been a more difficult term than they’re used to, but hegemony was what they got, and they were off.  

It doesn’t make much sense to elaborate on the specifics of this performance, since of course it changes night to night.  But understand that improv of this type requires robust athleticism. For 45 minutes we were taken through vignettes that ranged from sinister surgeons to rebellious monks to a dysfunctional tree family.  The more outlandish the more laughs. 

Sometimes the joy of witnessing improvisational art comes from the feeling that you are seeing something that must have been rehearsed – how could anyone make such coherent and hilarious observations on the fly?  On this particular night Hipbang’s work had more of a jerky quality, which provided a different kind of pleasure. We watched the cogs turning in their heads as they played off each other embracing the sometimes threadbare connections between skits.  These guys, who are obviously great pals, had such fun tormenting each other throughout the scenes, one even subjected the other to stripping down and posing in his tighty-whities.   I was particularly impressed with how much Hipbang circled back to previous sketches and the obvious chemistry that united their dual performance.   

Hip.Bang Improv! is at the Toronto Fringe

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