Americans love private anonymous confessions. And Americans love musicals so why not combine the two? That is the premise behind Washington Improv Theater’s new longform improve show I Confess directed by Travis Ploeger. Audience members write down their secrets (anonymously,) before the show and put them in a basket. This is in itself quite fun; there’s something rather liberating about putting confession on paper in a way that won’t have any consequences; hence the incredible popularity of Frank Warren’s Post-Secret project. There are two kinds of secrets really; the kind we keep from others and the kind we keep from ourselves. Exercises like this help you get in touch with that reality.
An audience secret is chosen to be the “theme” for the evening, to create two storylines featuring narrative, theme, and character relationships. All music, characters, and stories are completely improvised; you never get the same numbers twice. One storyline examines the consequences of revealing a secret while the other storyline examines the consequences from concealing a secret. The show runs about an hour long. Held in The Source, a small black box theater with open seating, the production has an intimate feel that matches the material. We’re all sharing a night of private confessions together as it were.
By its very nature then, I Confess is difficult to review since you are literally getting a different show at every single performance. The performance I witnessed based on the secret, “I want to be pregnant,” was a truly hilarious send-up of maternity featuring surrogacy, adoption, orthopedic shoes, child abandonment, threesomes, shady Russian gangster figures, child soldiers, and much much more. The players bringing both incredible energy and subversive insights into human nature on stage. Sadly, you won’t get to see that show performed. But the show you see could revolve around an even better secret; something far more salacious, tragic, shocking, wicked, or just plain bizarre. The only way to know is to buy a ticket.
Photo Credit: Andrew Bossi
Featured: Sarah Donnelly, Mark Chalfant, Curtis Raye, Greer Smith
Washington Improv Theater
1835 14th Street, NW
Through July 28, 2012