Regardless of form, good improv and sketch always comes down to the same thing: the ability to create believable characters worth caring about. A lot of that is missing in Theatre Momentum’s current effort at the Bailiwick Loft (where the A/C is nil, just so you know).
The double bill includes “Jigsaw,” essentially an improvised play where scenes jump around in time and it’s not always clear what’s happening when. I guess that’s the jigsaw part. The ensemble (directed by Rob Kozlowski) works well together and they don’t meander off into tangents that could throw the whole thing out of whack. But they have real trouble establishing their characters beyond clichés. They’re not playing people so much as types. Only Demian Krentz stands out as the kind of performer who is fully engaged with the idea of acting—portraying an actual human being—and he’s all the funnier for it.
“Mixtape” (directed by Amanda Rountree) rounds out the night, and it is brutal. Not sure I understand the concept. Performer Greg Guilliano steps in at various points to sing, and it’s like those awful auditions on “American Idol,” except I had no clue what song he was singing. A mixtape implies recognizable songs. Am I interpreting this too literally? As for the scenes in between, the set never clicks into gear—although Peter Athans and Peter Schell deserve credit for plowing forward to establish and build a story, despite a stage manager who left them out there to drown far past the natural blackout point—even when performer Dan Gordon offered not one but two jokes that would have been perfect closers. (Nina Metz)
At the Bailiwick Arts Center Loft, 1229 W. Belmont, 773-857-3858. Wed 8p. $12. Through October 8.