Hal Foreen: Vinyl Vaccine
The Brody Theater
Through Feb 23
I tend to avoid reviewing improv-based shows because the quality of improvisation is unstable and can fluctuate drastically from night to night. But the Brody Theater's newest show, Hal Foreen: Vinyl Vaccine, compelled me to give it a shot anyway, because it is built on something that I have not seen in the world of improv for a long time: an original idea.
The goal of Hal Foreen is to be an improvised silent movie. A DJ (DJ Romulus or Remus) spins a steady stream of obscure records, and the group pantomimes a steady stream of improvised comic vignettes that are theoretically in sync with what the DJ is spinning.
This premise is excellent on paper, but colossally challenging in reality. Mime is an extremely difficult communication medium IF the people doing the miming are not good at it. The guys of Hal Foreen are more than not good at mime; they're terrible at it. And as the show goes on, their miming skills only deteriorate. They gesture frantically and with great energy, and they make funny faces, but it all looks very sloppy. The fruit of their labors is rarely legible. Most of the time, you wonder if even they know what they are trying to convey.
The night I went to this show, I could feel the audience wanting to laugh. Hal Foreen has a novel concept, DJ Romulus was spinning some cool shit, and the members of the group, Nate Halloran, John Breen, and Brad Fortier, are each uniquely loveable and creative. But the total package was in another language. And though we could pick out a few words, we were nowhere near fluent enough to get the complete story.
Great ideas come and go. Real genius lies in bringing them to the masses.