REVIEW: OCT’s “Impulse”

IMPULSE-PhotoCredit Oregon Childrens Theatre

“THIS THE BEST SHOW I HAVE EVER SEEN ON A STAGE! Mom, we HAVE to go see it again!” said Nathan, my 10-year-old son. Evidently, he liked “Impulse,” Oregon Children Theater’s (OCT) unscripted show performed by their improvisational troupe that we saw last Friday. (In case Nathan’s point wasn’t clear enough, he drew a huge thumbs-up in green highlighter on the show program and left it on my desk.)

OCTImpulseReview-jan16-1I have to say I mostly agree with Nathan. “Impulse” features the comedic talents of eight teenagers, who are members of the OCT improvisational troupe. Over the course of an hour, the troupe played about seven games, where they had to come up with storylines, dialogue and action on the spot, often based on audience suggestions. As you might have guessed, the unpredictability resulted in hilarious skits.

One of the best skits was called “Dream Sequence.” In this skit, all but one of the actors remained backstage while an audience member recalled, out loud, a recent dream she had. Then, an actor from backstage came up front and watched while the actor who remained on stage acted out the audience member’s dream without using any dialogue. The catch? The actor from backstage had to guess what the dream was about and then tell the dream to another actor, who had to act it out for another actor, in a sequence that was very reminiscent of the game “Telephone.” As you might have guessed, the dream became more and more convoluted until the last version of the dream involved grandmas engaging in Satanic rituals in a department store.

Nathan’s favorite skits was called “Two-Headed Expert.” This skit simply features two actors sitting side-by-side, pretending to be a talk show guest but only able to say one word each at a time. The audience throws out a topic (dogs, in this case), and the talk show host interviews the “guest” about their expertise in dogs.

“This is just AMAZING that they are coming up with all of this stuff off the top of their heads!” Nathan kept whispering to me throughout the show. And indeed, this group of teenagers was faster with quips, funny comebacks and impressions than most adults I can think of.

But because this show is so verbal and so low on theatrics (the entire set was painted black, the only props were cubes painted black, and the actors wore only black in order to keep the focus on the dialogue), I would recommend it for kids ages 8 and up only. Nathan at 10 enjoyed most of it, but even some of it went over his head, especially the games with the more complex rules (“What’s a Satanic ritual, Mom?”)

OCTImpulseReview-jan16-2If you too would like to see the “BEST SHOW EVER SEEN ON A STAGE,” visit www.octc.org to buy tickets for as little as $10 each. “There’s no chance it will be the same show twice,” the emcee pointed out at the end of the production, and he is absolutely right that this is a show that will feel fresh every time.

“Impulse” runs for just two more weekends until February 6, and the show typically sells out quickly, so you will definitely want to buy tickets in advance. Also, know that the show is held at the OCT studio theater at 1939 NE Sandy Blvd, not downtown, where you might be used to seeing OCT productions. Limited parking is available on the street.

MaryJo and her family were given tickets to this performance on behalf of Metro Parent-PDX Kids Calendar for review. She was in no way compensated for her opinions.

Top image courtesy of Oregon Children’s Theatre. Additional photos courtesy of MaryJo.

MaryJo Monroe

MaryJo Monroe

MaryJo Monroe has been a professional organizer with her company reSPACEd for 10 years. When she’s not helping families dig out from their stuff, she enjoys hiking and biking around her North Portland neighborhood with her 11-year-old son and husband.
MaryJo Monroe