Review: Needs Improvment


Jillian Goldstein, Staff Writer

Seniors Rosa Stern Pait and Gabe Doyle act out a skit at Needs Improvment. JILLIAN GOLDSTEIN / SAGAMORE STAFF

Needs Improvment, the improvisational acting group at the high school, performs with such a natural feeling, fluidity and joy, it is difficult to tell that performers make up their lines in the moment.

On Friday, Jan. 8, in the Roberts-Dubbs Auditorium, the group once again wowed an audience with their ability to take any given relationship, location or odd conditions, and create a hilarious and enjoyable show.

The audience was invited to come with canned food to be donated to the Brookline Food Pantry. The food was accepted as admission into the show along with $6. All of the proceeds for the show will be donated to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, aiding Syrian Refugees.

Before Needs Improvment started their performance, the Boston Latin School’s Yellow Submarine Improv Troupe made an appearance. The group emerged from behind the curtain by crawling under it, which immediately caught the audience’s attention. The audience was called upon to pick a location for their scene to take place in, after many suggestions, a kitchen was chosen. The comedic depiction of a family preparing for dinner evolved from making pasta into a love triangle, and finally into the preparation of many of the characters for dinner. The audience was left with tears of laughter in their eyes due to the wild plot and witty lines.

After Boston Latin’s grand opening scene, Needs Improvment introduced themselves, wearing ‘80’s dance workout garments, doing exercises that might be found in an exercise video. Drama teacher Mark Vanderzee began by asking senior Gabe Doyle to act as “God.” Doyle’s job was to be the “puppet master” and stop the scene at whatever point to focus in on a different aspect of one of the character’s lives. Next an audience member suggested “the flood” as the topic of the scene. The first line was delivered by junior Katie Suh: “I haven’t seen molasses like this in years!” Eventually, through Doyle’s “puppet mastering,” senior Sophie Brown explained how her character got their nickname, “Butternugget.”

Junior Katie Suh and senior Nathan Kyn perform at the Friday, Jan. 8 Needs Improvment event. JILLIAN GOLDSTEIN / SAGAMORE STAFF

Vanderzee led the improv group into a new game where senior Sophia Pouzyrev acted as the “dinger” which gave her the responsibility of “dinging” at moments during the scene, which would force the actors to go back to their last line and change it to something completely different. This time, the audience suggested that the relationship between the two actors would be “identical cousins.” The idea led to a hysterical scene of two identical cousins with the names “Jerry” and “Jeff,” who both were only capable of communicating via screams. The two boys, played by Doyle and senior Nathan Kyn, had to change lines such as “Take a walk Mom!” to “Take a hike Mom!” thanks to Pouzyrev’s role as the “dinger.”

Many more scenes occurred, touching on topics such as “the Chipotle Norovirus outbreak” where four very different characters ended up either getting married or killing one another, “losing control of my bladder,” and also “trying on clothes at Abercrombie and Fitch.” The final scene started with a climactic fight over the ownership of the Parcheesi club at the high school. The Needs Improvment actors had to rewind the scene until they ended up at the original scene once more. This intricate and humorous game was a perfect end to the night.

The actors in Needs Improvment not only got the audience involved and excited about what they were watching, but they were able to seamlessly make acting risks and transitions without hesitation or self-doubt. Needs Improvment managed to powerfully captivate an audience and tie together the most seemingly random topics. Most importantly, Needs Improvment holds the ability to make people laugh and enjoy themselves, which is something that shouldn’t be missed.