FACE (Every Good Boy Does Fine)
nytheatre.com review by Daniel Kelley
August 13, 2008
It's a rare experience at any kind of performance to find yourself so engrossed in the piece that you don't want it to end. However this was my experience of the improv show FACE (Every Good Boy Does Fine). The troupe's comedic, dramatic, and jazz improv is so surreally compelling that by the end, you leave wishing you could see what they come up with next.
From a single audience suggestion, the members of FACE (five actors and a seven-person jazz ensemble) perform their own kind of long-form improvisation. Both what the actors say and what the jazz musicians play are completely made up on the spot at every performance. While it would be easy for the jazz musicians to become background music in this format, the ensemble is so tightly knit that the musicians seem to have as much input into the proceedings as the performers. The musicians and the actors work together, creating scenes that flow into and out of each other, connect back on each other, and form a variety of musical and dramatic themes.
What's most impressive about the troupe is not only are these comedic improvisers not afraid to go serious, but they are not afraid to be abstract. Many of the most compelling points throughout the piece are non-linear movement-based moments that are guided by the music. At the same time as they are able to do this, the performers are also very funny and skilled comedic improvisers.
Each performer and musician brings a unique energy to the troupe. T.J. Mannix is particularly compelling for his complete commitment to the characters he plays. In the show I saw, Mannix's performance as a witless widower who talks to everyone as if he's in therapy was both heartbreaking and hilarious. Brady Miller on drums is also excellent. His subtle contributions, and the mischievous gleam in his eye, tip the scales on more than one occasion into a much welcome madness.
FACE revels in the best part of improv—the fact that because you are making up everything on the spot, you can take an audience anywhere and they'll go with you. FACE embraces this and runs with it, creating a truly theatrical form of improvisation.
You should absolutely catch FACE (Every Good Boy Does Fine) in FringeNYC. If for some catastrophic reason you can't, they will more than likely be playing in and around New York City in the near future—so if you can check them out, do.