Ladies Who Improv

What Women Talk About is the theatrical equivalent of throwing spaghetti against a wall and seeing what sticks. Rather than keeping to a script, its cast creates an introductory scenario ahead of time and then largely improvises the specific action and dialogue. The performances have an overarching plot line tying them together, but each evening lifts out of the episodic structure enough to stand out on its own. And while the walls of the Kraine Theater remain pasta-free, the place does resound with much earned laughter. Women centers around Lauren Seikaly as Bonnie, an in-control casting director, and her three less tightly wound friends: Katharine Heller as free spirit Sara, Brenna Palughi as the promiscuous Sophie, and Lynne Rosenberg as the self-deprecating Jean. The premise for this performance found the ladies preparing for a red carpet event devoted to Bonnie's client Jude Law. As they ready themselves for the evening, the actresses ad-lib away, discussing everything from Law's sexual proclivities to the art of female grooming, including plenty of swearing and scatological humor.

It's unclear exactly how much of the show is mapped out beforehand and how much develops during the run; the program says the actresses have created their characters over the course of the last year. But this quartet is quite a well-oiled machine. Despite the occasional awkward pause and several occasions where the actresses talk over one another, the cast is remarkably in sync. Heller in particular is a font of spontaneous energy. On average, she probably threw out more bons mots off the cuff than her fellow cast members did.

But each actress contributes admirably. In fact, while Seikaly seems to improvise less dialogue (though one throwaway line confusing rapper Kanye West with Cond

Click for print friendly PDF version of this blog post