Fear and Loathing in Lakeview: A Feel Good Comedy, Aha!, at Bailiwick Repertory. Bailiwick’s resident improv troupe seems to have found a niche with its brand of mild, quirky, lesbigay humor. And while Fear and Loathing in Lakeview isn’t nearly as ambitious as some of the troupe’s past projects–among them a fully scripted play and long-form improv–it is on the whole a much stronger effort.
Sketch comedy based on a tiny neighborhood like Lakeview doesn’t exactly offer limitless opportunities for humor, and most of the evening’s targets are predictable: young professionals and corporate whores, gentrification, and ubiquitous institutions like Starbucks. Yet the troupe’s perspective is undeniably honest. Experiments with unconventional scene structures and intertwined monologues generally bring welcome results: Aha! presents the perils of finding affordable housing as a silent film, and a tour of local gay bars and other establishments becomes an “urban safari.”
The scripted material in Fear and Loathing in Lakeview isn’t airtight, but director M.T. Cozzola wisely allows the performances to carry the show in an unobtrusive, efficient staging. Even the improv–which has been criticized on other occasions for its sloppiness and lack of focus–has been bolstered here by an emphasis on ensemble work. For a troupe that mounts only a handful of shows a year, Aha! is surprisingly sharp.