CHOKED ON LOVE, Annoyance Theatre. Spray painted in big letters in the cavernous Annoyance performing space is “Theatre Sucks”–and they mean it. For a long time this rebellious “fuck you” spirit carried Annoyance along, driving them to create one wonderful show after another. But these days the Annoyance seems to have run out of gas. Almost everything I’ve seen there in the past two years has made me long for the days in the late 80s and early 90s when it seemed every show was inspired and fresh, if not always as revolutionary as Co-ed Prison Sluts, the two-act comedy that proved improvised rehearsals could be used to create a script.

Choked on Love, the latest Annoyance show created entirely from improv, may not hold a candle to such early hits as Tippi: Portrait of a Virgin, but there’s something about this quiet, intelligent relationship comedy, following the lives of three interconnected couples, that gives me hope. True, the storytelling seems a little off: as in lots of Annoyance shows, this one takes forever to get started, then ends abruptly just when the story kicks into gear. But at least we’re given believable, multidimensional characters (excellently acted by Annie Watson’s six cast members) facing real-life problems–love, work, commitments–and not men who like to eat babies or dead people who throw dinner parties. –Jack Helbig