Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Off-Broadway Theater Review: HYPROV: Improv Under Hypnosis


(Asad Mecci and Colin Mochrie ©Aaron Cobb)

HYPROV

Created and Performed by Colin Mochrie and Asad Mecci
Directed by Stan Zimmerman
Original Music by Rufus Wainwright
Music Director John Hilsen
Daryl Roth Theatre
Through Oct. 30, 2022

By Lauren Yarger
What do you get when you mix the king of improv with some hypnotized volunteers? 

It is HYPROV, a new Off-Broadway show featuring Colin Mochrie (TV's “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) and Hypnotist Asad Mecci.

If you ever have caught Mochrie on "Whose Line" with colleague improv master Ryan Styles, you know there isn't more entertaining to be found on TV. His name on the billing alone brought me to the downtown Daryl Roth Theatre, though I tend to be a sceptic where hypnosis is a character. I just have a hard time believing that people can be so open to suggestion that they are unaware of the zany things they do on stage....

In this show, created by the stars with Jeff Andrews, and with Creative Consultation from Bob Martin, 20 volunteers from the audience are invited up to the stage. Mecci, through a series of exercises, eventually eliminates all but four or five of those who are the most receptive to hypnosis to improv with Mochrie, who says working with blank-faced subjects is one of the most scary things he has done in his career.

A number of routines are used, not all of them every night. They include the ones I saw:
  • Can’t find your belly button: Hyprovisers search around the stage as they can’t find their belly button
  • Proposal: One Hyproviser falls madly in love with Colin and must propose.
  • Follow the ball: Asad and Colin play with an imaginary ball.
  • Hybrid Pet: Family members mourn the loss of their talented family pet. Gerald, the baseball-playing hybrid giraffe/hippopotamus who met his untimely end by means of a butter church was pretty funny.
  • Duet: Colin and a Hyproviser perform a musical duet, reuniting after 20 years apart. Note: Music Director John Hilsen ends up being an improv star himself
  • It’s Your Life: Colin interviews a celebrity from the audience and the Hyprovisers portray important people from their past.
Specifics elements to be used in the scenarios are shouted out prior by the audience members or include twists added by Mecci. Each night is unique and different scenarios are used. Most of the people in the audience the night I attended expressed an interest in coming again. That is a positive thing from a young, diverse group that enthusiastically enjoyed the show.

The 100-minute, no intermission show was entertaining, but I couldn't help think that the participants didn't need to be hypnotized. Mochrie is a master of his craft. Fully awake volunteers could have been just as fun (and you know, it's just hard to believe that after a few words from Mecci those folks were unaware of their surroundings....). But in an effort to be fair, I'll let Mecci give you his rationale:

“When a person is hypnotized, they no longer reflect on their behavior,” notes Mecci. “Hypnosis removes the filters and walls they’ve built up and allows them to be open to saying yes and being imaginative. That’s why they can do remarkable things on stage. You never know which hypnotized volunteer is going to become the next star of the show. It’s what makes the show so much fun - ordinary people doing extraordinary things!”

Additional credits:
Jo Winiarski (scenic design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design), Walter Trarbach (sound design).

When not performing on stage, Mecci works with major corporations as an expert consultant in the areas of motivation, advanced communication and stress management. He also coaches Olympic athletes in the area of mental strength and peak performance.

HYPROV mesmerizes and entertains at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street at Union Square East for a 12-week limited engagement. Shows are Wednesdays through Sundays at 7 pm with an additional show on Saturdays at 10 pm.  Tickets start at $55 and are available at www.hyprov.com or by calling (212) 239-6200.

FAMILY-FREINDLY FACTORS:
  • The show is recommended for ages 12+.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York. Shifting from reviewing to producing, Yarger owns Gracewell Productions, which produced the Table Reading Series at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. She trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run. She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She wrote reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She was a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice president and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (producer of the annual awards ceremony) and a member of The League of Professional Theatre Women, serving as Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter. Yarger was a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2022 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women or people of a certain race are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide, or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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