Road Show, Free Associates, at the Ivanhoe Theater. Best known for witty, intelligent, fully improvised parodies of works of literature–by Tennessee Williams, William Shakespeare, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie–the Free Associates have for some reason decided to experiment with performing written material (sometimes called “real theater” by people who disdain improv).
You have to applaud the company’s willingness to try new things, but Road Show, written by Free Associates Mark Gagne and Susan Gaspar, is shallow, long-winded, and poorly constructed–just the kind of undisciplined mess you’d expect improvisers in a writing mood to come up with. Like all too many improvised sketches, the story–about a hapless dresser working on a benighted tour of Hair in the 1990s–has no forward motion. Almost any scene in the show could be the first moment of the play or the last. The characters are the same sweet cliches that charm us in Free Associates improvised shows–spacey actress, nerdy stage manager, meddlesome southern society lady–but they don’t have enough heft to remain interesting for two and a half hours. And it doesn’t help that Gagne and Liz Cloud play 11 of the 12 characters.