The scene opens on two men creating a movie, with no script, cameras or set. There’s just imagination, and the lyrics “call me maybe,” solicited from an audience member sharing her least favorite song.
Anthony Atamanuik and Neil Casey from Upright Citizens Brigade’s troupe in New York City’s East Village performed their improvised “Two Man Movie” at Theatre 99. The duo last performed the show, which is different every time, in the spring at Theatre 99.
In this film, haphazardly titled “The Phone Call that Never Ended on the Corner of the Fire Station,” the theatre’s doughnut painted set becomes a chic advertising agency a la “Mad Men,” where an account executive has fired most of his staff. Then cut to a fire station where two firefighters — one young, one old — argue. Next, another cut to a mysterious Italian man and blonde woman in a New York subway station, which somewhere down the line becomes San Francisco. Still there?
This show requires a lot of audience participation, and the exorbitant scene-setting took away from the show’s humor. They rely on vulgarity, referring to genitalia several times for laughs, instead of being truly funny. In fact, the two seemed to be more amused by each other, breaking character several times, than the audience.
Then there are a few ridiculous “plot twists,” where the blonde woman, who turns out to be the account executive’s girlfriend, has her head blown off. Meanwhile, firemen are trying to find a serial arsonist, and the distraught account executive answers a random phone call. Then the show becomes something like the film “Phone Booth.”
For such a renowned company, this performance was subpar. Perhaps tomorrow’s movie will be better; after all, it is improvised. But this time it was like putting a camera on two frat guys hanging out on a Saturday night.
Kelundra Smith is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.