The acting was great, their chemistry was on, and there was zaniness aplenty — so why did I leave The Reckoning’s Friday night show feeling slightly underwhelmed? Despite their quickness when it came to responding to each other’s cues, and their boundless creativity, there was something missing, preventing the night from being one of the most memorable comedy events of my life, as I fully expected it to be.
This is not to say I didn’t laugh. The five members of The Reckoning who performed the one-hour improv show on Friday had some awesome, on -point scenes, like one in which one of the guys played a giggly, naïve 19-year-old girl sitting next to a much older, hilariously creepy man in a deserted movie theater. Both characters were played to perfection. The other three members of the group had their own characters at which they excelled, particularly a sweet Midwestern woman with a self-effacing, insecure manner who, nevertheless, introduces herself to her favorite author and talks at length about old times with a high school boyfriend who clearly doesn’t much remember, or care to remember, her. The children of a New Jersey mom are also expertly done, with one of the men playing a switchblade-toting boy, and one of the two women playing his annoying sister.
What I think might have thrown the performance a bit off was the framework of the show, a setup in which a long and complicated process connects a piece of toast pinging up to a feather which tickles a man’s nose and wakes him every morning. As part of the Harold form, which The Reckoning has mastered, this toast scenario was visited again and again throughout the show, and I just never got that much out of it. It was used as a framing device more than anything else, with the feather’s waking the man or neglecting to wake him providing the impetus, the connection for the other characters and scenes; however, I could have done without this epic toast story, since the connections it made generally didn’t make much sense.
Even though I wasn’t a fan of the whole toast thing, and even though I wasn’t as thrilled when I left as I thought I’d be, it’s impossible not to see that The Reckoning are masters of their craft. If you’re a fan of improv, or study it, you shouldn’t miss this act — there’s a lot to be learned merely watching them interact onstage. I just wish I’d had a few more belly laughs.
The Reckoning • Piccolo Fringe • $15 • One hour • May 24 at 9 p.m., May 25 at 5 p.m., and May 26 at 7:30 p.m. • Theater 99, 208 Meeting St. • (888) 364-2757