Philadelphia improv group Tongue & Groove debuted its’ new show, “Six” at this year’s fringe festival. The show’s name is derived from the way the group gets suggestions from the audience, via cards with six word autobiographies. These short blurbs are used by the members of the ensemble to create rich characters with deep relationships between each other as well as set scenes, perform character monologues, and play improv games.
The members of Tongue & Groove have developed a improvisational style that they describe as “serio-comic, realism based, ‘Actors Improv'” in which they focus on the relationship between the characters in the scene, to dramatic and hilarious effect. Whether the scene was serious or comedic, or a mixture of both, it was constantly interesting to watch the interaction between the players.
The show began with each actor reading a card with a six word biography written by an audience member for inspiration. The scenes started with a bang as cast members Ed Miller and Casey Spaulding jumped into each others arms for an intense make-out session which led to a scene exploring the amusing perils of young love. Other recurring characters and scenes included Frederick Anderson and Beth Dougherty as actors waiting to go on an audition who slowly develop an admiration for each other, Dougherty and Bobbi Block as a couple in trouble after Dougherty loses her job as a lawyer and takes work in at a hippy farmers market, and Block and Josh Rubinstein as siblings who never really got along having to deal with the declining health of their mother. All of the scenes showcased the group’s ability to mix realistic deep relationships showcasing the funny moments in the drama of everyday life.
The scenes were interspersed with monologues from characters created from more of the six word biographies, actors creating their own six word bios from a single word suggestion, some improv games, and larger group scenes. The show wrapped up with the actors in a line in the front of the stage, each taking turns reciting memorable lines from the characters they portrayed during the show.
Considering the show was filled with rich characters, deep relationships, and moments of honest hilarity each one of the members of the cast had a lot to return to in the closing. With “Six” Tongue & Groove was able to take six words and create a full world of people you grew to care about, feel for, and laugh with.