By UPMA KAPOOR
The Undeniably Adjacent, the University of Mary Washington’s only improv troupe, are off to a strong start after hosting their first show last Friday, Sept. 28, at 8 p.m. in Combs 237.
Most seats in the lecture hall were either occupied or saved for other audience members 20 minutes before the show began. By 7:55 p.m., Combs 237 was beyond capacity as students crouched together on the linoleum floor to grab a glimpse of the forthcoming troupe.
Senior Director Mattson Fields introduced three newcomers and four returning cast members of the Undeniably Adjacent. Without wasting time, Fields announced the schedule for the evening: the troupe would perform three 20-minute sets throughout the hour.
The first game of the evening was a long-form exercise. Long-form implies that all cast members construct various scenes for 20 minutes based off of a one-word suggestion from the audience. The first word was “dragon.” The approach the cast members took was to reenact a castle dining scene, with a meal featuring a dragon claw.
Members were not short of originality as each scene steered in various directions, seeping of social and political jokes. From a drunk President John Kennedy visiting the fictional “Clinton Motel” with Marilyn Monroe, to cutting off one’s balls at the Center for Testicular Cancer, the first 20-minute set of the show set an energetic, engaging tone for the remainder of the evening.
The second segment was Party Quirks, where three cast members play characters at a party, and a fourth plays a host who has to guess which characters the three actors are portraying.
While each round of Party Quirk was 10 minutes long, both performances were well executed as the characters dramatically varied and were rich with pop-culture references.
The first half featured adaptations of a jelly fish, Arrested Development’s Tobias Funke and a Girl Scout possessed by the devil. The actor who portrayed Tobias even took the liberty of incorporating the timeless line from the show, “I blue myself.”
Other crowd favorites in the second half included a giraffe with a broken neck and Yoshi from the Super Mario Brothers.
The group ended with a game, New Choice, where the director sits aside and commands a “new choice” to enhance a scene between cast members.
This was one of the group’s weakest performances. Members seemed confused and concerned with one another, often failing to acknowledge the “new choice.” When two members were digging in a ditch, they deadlocked when they could not figure out a “new choice” for the location of the ditch. Ultimately, they decided they were “digging for money in money.”
Regardless, the group quickly recuperated and returned to long-form with the phrase, “hot dog.” While it did provide room for fitting sexual jokes and references to Oktoberfest, the Undeniably Adjacent also managed to insert a reference to the “Eagle Swoop” dance.
The show ended well with Batman and Superman discussing the prejudices alienating other superheroes, explicitly allegorizing presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent comment about 47 percent of America.
The Undeniably Adjacent depends on active audience participation. However, improvisation, as it entails, is spontaneous and often relies on cast members’ chemistry with one another. If the first show is any indication of this year’s series of performances by the group, Friday nights will be rich with wit from here on out.