A couple of weeks back, I caught the latest Los Angeles appearance of Improvised Shakespeare Company, a rotating band of actors whose home base is in Chicago.
After asking the audience for a quasi-Shakespearean title, and getting back a torrent of ideas, the five-man band took up the concept of “Henry the Fifth Element” and off they went. As they put it, it would be the first (and last) time this particular play would be performed as they created it on the fly.
Mixing music, rhyme, a solid knowledge of at least one play (Henry V), they kept the verbal and physical jokes coming fast and furiously. Surprisingly, they were also pretty thoughtful in their creation: taking the usual four elements (earth, wind, fire, and water) and made the fifth element love (tying in with the Henry/Catherine romance).
Did every joke land? Of course not. But when the gags are coming as fire hose speed, it doesn’t matter: a new chuckle is just around the corner.
Here’s a playlist from their YouTube Channel.
They’ll be back in L.A. in February. My tickets are already purchased… if they’re coming to a town near you, do yourself a favor and check them out!