The conceit of Philly Improv Theater’s STUDY HALL is that we the audience are a bunch of prep school students, awaiting a lecture in an auditorium. A few uniformed “classmates” sit on the stage, along with our lecturer, Dr. Michael Yudell (a Drexel professor with a PhD in Sociomedical Sciences). After learning some real facts about different public health topics, the students start improvising a series of small scenes. From the get go, the members of the cast are able to establish strong characters, and a wide range of them too.
They demonstrate good instincts on when to stop the scenes, although this is often undercut by a cast member trying to get one last line in after the scene has clearly ended. These interjections are unnecessary to the scenes, and make the show feel ragged when it should razor-sharp. Also, while the scenes usually have well-defined games (what the scenes are about, like “A wants to sell stuff to B, who doesn’t want to buy anything”), too often the games lack oomph. However, the cast shows some real brilliance as they call back earlier jokes and tie disparate scenes together into one comedic universe. [Mainstage at the Adrienne] September 19-22, 2013. fringearts.ticketleap.com/