Kirsten Rasmussen, Dan Jeannotte
An improv nub gets a lesson and is utterly fascinated
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
Except for the two and a half hellish years I studied it in acting school, I like improv. It is theatre on a tightrope. When it's good it's acting with brains. (And you know it—quickly—when there are no brains involved in an improv.) Ask any actor and if he or she answers honestly, they will tell you it is the most difficult thing in the world to do properly. I do not always understand the ground-rules of improv, these days, but the bottom line is still this, with any improv show: are you being delighted?
...to have the raw material, there, on the stage, forming in front of you is one of those theatre experiences that truly thrills.
Tonight, with It's Not You It's Me (An Improvised Tragedy), I was more than delighted; I was absolutely hypnotized. At first, all I could think was, "What a great idea, why hasn't anyone done this before: improvised drama?" Except, they have: Lars von Trier and Mike Leigh's works are often the results of improvising. But to have the raw material, there, on the stage, forming in front of you is one of those theatre experiences that truly thrills.
After the initial surprise over what this actually was, I ceded to its justness. The actors, Kirsten Rasmussen and Dan Jeannotte, and their director, Vinny Francois, have nailed the guts of the characters and so what they said and did on the stage felt and sounded utterly natural. The hesitations which are common to improv somehow, here, transformed into the hesitation of couplehood, the awkwardness of a first meeting and, later, the whiffs of things going wrong - silences of misunderstand and distrust.
Rasmussen and Jeannotte are in top form, not only as improvisational artists but also as actors and writers (in passing, Rasmussen is a finalist for a MECCA, this year, for her text blink, blink, blink). Tonight Jeannotte had the meat of the drama and he was truly heart-breaking - if you see it tomorrow or Saturday the dramatic thread may be different.
But, fercrissakes, see it!
It's Not You It's Me is at Montreal Improv to November 26