Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Choose Your Own Play (CSV Milagro)

BOTTOM LINE: A fun show...unnecessary language and crude jokes hurt the humor at times, but with a light heart you can appreciate this production.

I liked this show. Choose Your Own Play relies on audience participation, doesn't take itself too seriously and the actors have fun entertaining the audience. The concept of the show is formatted after the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, where the reader decides what happens next with a series of choices along the way (answer the phone or open the door? Go after your girlfriend or seek a new romance?) In this production, the audience's round of applause makes the fun decisions as the story unfolds.

The story is a blend of improv and scripted scenes and comedy-wise, some jokes are really funny. The cast is a young group of college students and recent graduates from Houston. Their biggest detriment is when they opt for dirty jokes with foul language or sexual references as opposed to a smart joke or just moving the story forward. Some actors do show developing comedy chops when they aren't making a crass joke or trying too hard. When they hit the earned or surprise jokes, the audience loves it.

It is easy to look past the bad jokes, because the show is fun. You will restart at the beginning during the course of the show, so no worries if your choice at the beginning wasn't chosen. Don't look for too much plot, it is nonsensical by definition and the stories might end up disappointing (as the books did if I recall correctly). I'd love to see this group continue working to polish the scripts, jokes, and the overall payoff for each show. As for its run at the Fringe Festival this year, Choose Your Own Play is an enjoyable and refreshing way to experience theater.

Choose Your Own Play plays at CSV Cultural Center, Milagro Theatre, 107 Suffolk St. (between Rivington and Delancy). Show times: Wednesday, August 13th at 3:15pm; Friday, August 15th at 9:30; Monday, August 18th at 5:15pm and Thursday, August 21st at 9:30pm. For tickets and info visit chooseyourownplay.net or fringenyc.org.

Review by writerbeasy.

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