REVIEW: Drama @ Chicago Improv Festival

A Slap in The Face.

DramaI had no idea what to expect for this show, but needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Drama‘s “thing” is they naturally build tension to the point where they physically hit each other. An improv slap, not a real slap – don’t worry, we’re not promoting abuse here folks. But it’s interesting, because it’s intentional and… it’s new.

They asked for something a family might fight over and their suggestion was “a will.” Now when the opening had the majority of people mention something about money, I’m not going to lie, I figured it would be a long 25 minutes. However, about eight minutes in, I changed my mind. And there are two main reasons why: Mike Finn and Matt Nikkila.

Mike Finn jumps whole-heartedly into characters in a split second, complete with unique character quirks from the very top. Most improvisers take a minute or so to figure out what physicality to give to their character, but Finn owns it. From the nervous wrist tick of an uncertain parent to the ever-so-convincing sassy old, cane-enabled uncle, he’s quick to play something that isn’t expected and I like that. He also emanates a Susan Messing-like style, where words just flow from his mouth like a verbalized stream of conscientiousness and it’s all entirely believable. Finn is like a car crash on stage – you can’t take your eyes off him and you feel bad for staring.

Matt Nikkila. The guy doesn’t break. He has a Chris Farley-esque presence, but you can actually take him seriously. Every statement is made with such conviction and certainty, it seems like it should have been obvious the whole time. It’s as if he’s shooting truth daggers when he speaks. He has amazing comedic timing and I’d be very interested to see what he could pull off in a full-fledged comedy.

I’ll also say I was surprised by how much I appreciated the casual demeanor of Joe Kovach. He’s pretty mellow and could easily blend into the crowd, however, when he delivers the perfect, unexpected one-liner with ease, you do a double take and sit up a little straighter.

All in all, this show was such a pleasure. There are still plenty of opportunities for improvement, but this group of up-and-coming performers has a lot of untapped potential. I’m very excited to see what steps these guys and gals take next. Very well done.

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posted on by Kiley Peters posted in Uncategorized

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