Friday, March 24, 2023

"Wish You Were Here" at Strike Theater

"A one act improvised comedy about loss and friendship. Grief is sad. And funny. And everything else." Strike Theater's latest show, Wish You Were Here, is funny and silly, and also kind of profound in the way that it shows people grieving as a part of normal life, with nothing resolved or closed by the end of it. I discovered through Family Dinner that long-form is my favorite kind of improv, because I love watching characters and relationships develop in a satisfying way throughout the course of the evening. That's definitely true here as well; in fact I wish there were a second act because there were several relationships established that I'd like to see developed further. But as it is, Wish You Were Here is a funny and bittersweet hour of an improvised dramedy. Only two performances remain - Friday and Saturday. Click here for more info and to purchase the $5-10 tickets.

At each one of the five performances, a different member of the nine-person troupe "dies" (the delightfully funny Madde Gibba at the show I attended). The show opens with this person solo onstage in a scene from the past. In the next scene, a group of friends (Rita Boersma, Shanan Custer, Tom Winner, Adam Mellerup, Molly Chase, Eric Heidberg, Becky Hauser, and Sam Landman) gather for her memorial. We then alternate between scenes of the past, the deceased paired with a different member of the group, and the memorial in the present. Relationships, break-ups, stolen cars, possible art fraud, all of these are possible topics for this gathering. We never really find out how she died, or how exactly these people are related, but the sense of love and loss is evident.

This incredible troupe of improvisors all seem so natural, with nothing forced or fake, like we're just eavesdropping on a real group of friends as they talk about their friend, the past, and their current lives. Mike Fotis directs the piece and controls the lighting and projections, deciding when scenes should end and the next one, sometimes with a prompt, begins. I was expecting it to be sadder than it was; there were no tears shed, just a gentle sort of melancholic feeling (aided by the choice of music played between scenes).

A comedy about grief? Why not! (See also my favorite new Apple TV+ show Shrinking.) It's a great way to normalize and explore something that's a part of all of our lives.

See Wish You Were Here at Strike Theater in Northeast Minneapolis (with much easier parking than Uptown) through March 25 only.