Generic Hospital 

Brody Theater at the Brody Studio

The Brody Theater's Generic Hospital is a mess: a series of shuddering stutter-stops, missed cues, failed plot lines, and weak stabs at gimmickry. Successful improv is rooted in a troupe that trusts each other—yet at no point during this show do you get the sense that these guys would trust each other to get a drink order right, let alone to work together onstage.

The cardinal rule of improv is "Yes, and...." Meaning that regardless of what your scene partner says or does, run with it. This rule makes for some of the funniest stage moments imaginable, but it's a lot harder to follow than it seems. An unskilled improviser doesn't listen to or work with their partner. Instead, they try to muscle the scene into what they think it should be doing, regardless of whether or not their conceit actually fits with what has developed onstage.

Long-form improv is even harder, because in order to get it right, you've got to follow still more rules. The players need to create clearly defined characters based on serious research, and the boundaries of the form they're imitating need to be laid out impeccably. Stories follow an arc, especially those parodied in long-form improvisation. If you don't set a formula and follow it, you're not doing long-form improv—you're sitting in on a high school acting class.

The Brody has been performing Generic Hospital every so often for a few years now, but it looks like they slapped it together last week. None of the players seem to understand any of the characters, and none could agree on the direction of the story, even as it unfolded before them. Cast member and creator of the show Brad Fortier made strong efforts to engage his cast-mates, but his soliloquy during the second act was perhaps the most telling scene of the entire night. Unsupported by the rest of the team, and unable to support them himself, he sat in the middle of the stage and improvised alone until the moment petered out—something the entire group had been doing all night, even when they shared space on the same stage.

Maybe the team was just off its game, or maybe it's time to drop some of the troupe's dead weight. Regardless, Generic Hospital is DOA.

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