nytheatre.com review by Steven Slate
February 28, 2008
New Format Improv promises an experimental improvised play with its current show Subway Series, and that's exactly what it delivers. As it is an improvised show, each performance will be very different, although I think the form remains the same. The players take the stage and perform several segments which include tableaus, silent scene paintings set to music, movement pieces, and audience interactions. The show then shifts to a much more traditional scenic improv for a good amount of time. Finally, the show ends full circle with a return to some of its opening devices.
It's great to see a show really hit its mark, and although some of it was a little too abstract for my tastes I still left feeling like each segment of this show had a purpose and meaning. The show is ambitious, raw, and exactly what I want to see performed in NYC's East Village. I could sense that these performers are extremely committed to their craft, passionate about it, and most of all, real. There seemed to be an element of personal honesty to each scene which led to great scenes and some well-deserved (rather than cheap) laughs.
My only complaint about this show is that there should be more scenes. The scenes are incredibly entertaining—the somewhat abstract opening segments are entertaining as well but begin to wear thin as they go on a little too long. The show was a little top heavy for my taste. But then again, this could be what led to such amazing scenes.
All in all, I was entertained and left the theatre happy. I got to see artists who care about their work and perform with passion. [The performers are: Jason/Janus Surratt, Jeff Stevens, Dan Levy, Chris McCue, Megan Bernard, Greg Moss, Cole Stitelman, and Aaron Stoker-Ring.] I got to see an improv troupe go for broke, but still manage to work together like a well oiled machine. I got to see some improvised scenes so realistic that they felt like they must've been scripted. Subway Series isn't ten-jokes-per-minute improv, but it is engaging, hip, and off the beaten path.