Theatre Review Print



Transactors Improv Co. Review: The New Thing Provokes Merriment by mixing Tried-and-True Transactors' Techniques

June 29, 2004 - Carrboro, NC:


The New Thing, the Transactors Improv Co.'s latest adventure in audience-suggestion-based improvisational comedy, with musical accompaniment to heighten the hilarity, triumphed despite a sappy overall theme ("world peace") and first line ("We give up") and some less-than-inspired secondary suggestions ("beauty pageants," "moose," "rose-colored glasses," "Star Trek," "weapons of mass destruction," "flying pigs") that provoked some predictable comic responses from the performers. All in all, the inherent zaniness of director Greg Hohn, Transactors veteran Nancy Pekar, and newcomer Joe Brack salvaged the Saturday evening performance at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC.

Hohn was highly amusing as a tough-talking Peace Corps drill sergeant chewing out his bewildered recruits, a wounded Continental Army sympathizer who stumbles into a British outpost manned by two clueless Redcoats (Joe Brack and Steve Smith), and especially the bellicose vice president of the Klingon subdivision at a Star Trek convention.

A very pregnant Nancy Pekar sparkled as a wife sharing a relaxing interlude at the beach with her husband (Hohn) when a flight of flying pigs unexpectedly materializes overhead. She scores again as the author of a "Dear John" letter to a solider in Iraq (Brack) and a Star Trek fan club president.

Joe Brack was a scream as a gay makeup artist mortally insulted by two bitchy homophobic beauty-pageant contestants (Regina Bartolone and Jill Greeson). He scored again as an out-of-this-world beauty-pageant contestant (with Greeson) who flutters about the stage with two heads, four arms, and four legs, and he also provoked laughs as William Shatner in the Star Trek segment.

Regina Bartolone, Steve Scott, and Steven Warnock were all amusing in a number of supporting roles; and Jill Greeson was very funny as a slutty, chain-smoking, hard-drinking Mrs. America contestant who secretly terrorizes her kids (Bartolone and Steven Warnock).

Pianist Drew Erteschik heightened the merriment all evening with his brisk accompaniment of the cast members' improvised lyrics, and techie-of-all-trades Mike Beard smoothly manipulated the lighting instruments and improvised other technical effects.

In this up-and-down mixture of Transactors' tried-and-true techniques, the invasion of the flying pigs and the Star Trek segments reigned supreme. And a good time was had by all.

Transactors Improv Co.: http://transactors.org/. The ArtsCenter: http://artscenterlive.org/.