It was big news a few months back when Ann Arbor’s Improv Inferno unexpectedly shut its doors on Main Street after losing its lease. But what seems to be a well-kept secret is the fact it reopened a short while later only a few streets away.
Now housed inside Live at PJ’s on the southwest corner of S. First Street and W. Huron, Improv Inferno is back not only with four nights of fun, but also its second-ever original holiday-themed comedy that gives new meaning to the phrase “have a shot on Christmas Eve” – especially if you’re stuck in a hospital on the night of the annual employee holiday party.
It’s not exactly business as usual at Kensington Hospital. For amidst the sick and dying stands party planner Terry from human resources who is trying to whip up some holiday cheer. There’s little spirit of the season in this motley crew, however. One big happy family they’re not!
Written through improv and performed by the cast of “Citizen Improv,” a long time staple on Friday nights at the Improv, “O Christmas Triage” is a fast-paced series of mostly holiday-themed vignettes that sheds light on the interpersonal relations among members of the hospital’s staff. Just like most shows created through improv, some of the skits are inspired, while others generate slightly more than a chuckle. And the few that DON’T work are gone quick enough not to matter much.
Directed by Tim McKendrick, the show’s lynchpin is Terry. Played with gusto by Mark Sobolewski, the prissy but androgynous Terry – think a middle-aged Carol Channing in fey male drag – is an overly enthusiastic perfectionist who can’t seem to understand why everyone isn’t excited about the holiday party. Sobolewski’s best moment comes during the show’s closing minutes when Terry thinks everyone purposely kept him out of the Secret Santa exchange. It’s both heart-wrenching and uplifting – and damn funny, too!
Others in the cast include Chris DiAngelo as Mark, a sex-obsessed doctor who goes way overboard when pressed to give a dying blind girl with cancer her biggest wish. (It’s not what you think.) Anne Faba has great fun as the cold and impersonal Dr. Bloom, while Matt Naas is the sanest of the bunch as Dr. Moonbeam, the child of hippies. And should you have a Swedish nurse during your next hospital stay, run – as the sexy character played by Katie Thomas doesn’t seem to know one medication from another.
The show’s standout, however, is Luanne, the longtime African-American receptionist played by young white guy John Hartman. She’s seen it all, done it all and she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. And she gets the biggest laughs every time she makes an appearance.
‘O Christmas Triage’
Improv Inferno at Live at PJ’s, 102 S. First St., Ann Arbor. Every Friday at 8 p.m. through Jan. 5. Tickets: $10. For information: 734-214-7080 or http://www.improvinferno.com