Sophomore Jinx, at Cafe Voltaire. Much of the magic in improvisational theater springs from the emergence of a story with a plot, characters, and all the elements necessary to a finished story. But doing something spontaneous and unrehearsed takes a lot of practice and demands a team of players who know and trust one another.

Unfortunately, the members of the Sophomore Jinx team give the impression of having met only minutes before the show. Receiving their theme from an audience suggestion (they accept only the first one), the four men and three women proceed to take the stage in teams of two, throwing out potential narrative leads so feeble that most of the players fail to connect with one another. In a jewelry-exchange scene, for example, the giver tries to hypnotize the getter; but the getter never takes the cue, and the action fizzles as quietly as it ignited. Indeed, so hesitant are most of the players that one could stage another play in the long, empty silences between speeches. The only person who succeeds in making something happen is Maurissa Afanador, who assumes the personalities of three different but equally abrasive crones to give her teammates something to oppose. But her efforts aren’t enough to rescue the show. –Mary Shen Barnidge