Friday, March 8, 2024

"Wish You Were Here" at Strike Theater

For one weekend only, Strike Theater is bringing back their improvised dramedy show Wish You Were Here, in which a talented cast of improvisors explore the ideas of grief and loss as a normal part of life. But not in too heavy or sad of a way. It's still very funny and a little goofy, but with a tinge of melancholy and nostalgia as this group of pretend (but maybe also real) friends mourn the pretend death of one of their group. There are only two more performances, so head to Strike in Northeast Minneapolis tonight or tomorrow night for this bittersweet, funny, and original show. Visit their website for info on all of the comedy, storytelling, and spoken word shows and classes they offer, and mark your calendars for the return of my favorite Strike Theater showThe Great Strike Theater Improvised Bake Off - on April 21 (yes, they actually bake live in front of you!).

At each one of the three performances, a different member of the nine-person troupe "dies" (coincidentally I saw the same deceased as I did last year - the always funny Madde Gibba). The show opens with this person solo onstage in a scene from the past. In the next scene, a group of friends (Rita Boersma, Molly Chase, Shanan Custer, Eric Heiberg, Katy Kessler, and Javier Morillo at the show I attended, but the rotating cast also includes Duck Washington 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. It's partly just normal funny friend party chatter, and also partly reminiscing about the friend they miss (who in this show had a weird obsession with people looking her in the eyes while she ate, and talking about the sadness of Christmas). 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* (with great melancholy music played between scenes). The show is about an hour long and goes by way too fast; I wanted to spend more time with this oddly endearing group of people, and the characters and relationships that were developed live from scratch right in front of us.

Click here to purchase $15 tickets to the show this Friday or Saturday night, or just show up for a night of laughter with a touch of sadness, like life.

photo by Mike Fotis