Review: Needs Improvment/BETCo

Benjamin Mandl, Staff writer

 

The Needs Improvment and BETCo showcase began with all the actors marching onstage while happy music played. Shortly afterward, there was an opening monologue by an actor, senior Gabe Doyle, to which the rest of the cast told him, “You need improvement!”

On Thursday, Nov. 12, Needs Improvment and Brookline Educational Theater Company put on a free show at the Robert Dubbs Auditorium. The high school’s drama groups engaged the audience, leading them through a humorous and imaginative adventure during the hourlong show.

The Needs Improvment group took the stage first to play a game called “What do you hate?” In this activity, the actors stepped out in front of the audience and said something that they hated, building off what the previous person had said. For example, one person said that they hated Easter, which led to the next person saying they hated bunnies due to allergies, and senior Ola Soltan responded that she hated allergies because people fake them.

When that game was over, the group shifted into one called “Pan Right.”  In this game, four people, seniors Lilly Hartman and Sophie Brown, and juniors Katie Suh and Carolyn Fahrner, stood in a square. Brown and Hartman were in a scene that they create based on suggestions from the audience, ranging from “John Cena” to “Osteoporosis.” One hilarious scene that got the largest reaction from the audience was when one of the actors told her mother that she was switching her name to Dogma, an audience-suggested word.

The next game that was played was called “Third Person.” In this one, a third person would jump into the previously two-person scene when they felt that it was a good time.  The relationship between the first two people on stage was psychiatrist, played by Soltan, and patient, played by senior Nathan Kyn. The patient was addicted to cigarettes, and later reveals to the doctor that it was from his wife, and that it started during World War II in Poland.  At this point his wife burst into the scene, yelling about how he left her in Poland, which got a huge laugh from the audience.

The BETCo show following the improv group took on a more serious tone as their performance was about people dealing with stress and its insidious effects. The BETCo performance highlight was when the actors portrayed students being “shot at” by their homework, Advanced Placement classes and the Scholastic Achievement Test, ending with the students being physically crushed by the pressures of their assignments and classes.

Overall, the Needs Improvment and BETCo show was an incredible performance. Needs Improvment did an amazing job of taking random and bizarre suggestions from the audience and transforming them into hilarity, while BETCo actors accurately but amusingly portrayed the stress that people endure in their everyday lives.