HYPROVCreated 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!”
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.
- The show is recommended for ages 12+.