Culture Magazine

Review: University (Theatre Momentum)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat


Review: University (Theatre Momentum)


Directed by Henri Dugas IV
at Apollo Theatre Studio, 2540 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Aug 13  | tickets: $8-$10  |  more info

Check for half-price tickets

   Read entire review



Improv show takes audience back to school


Review: University (Theatre Momentum)

Theatre Momentum presents



Review by Keith Ecker 

I have been on a self-imposed sabbatical from improv comedy for about two years. After having attended all the major local improv institutions, I got burned out. Rather than reach for the pinnacle of intelligent comedy, as legendary instructor Del Close advocated, too many improvisers seemed to settle for base gags and cheap laughs. And there’s only so much slapstick and referential humor a person can stand.

Theatre Momentum‘s mission reflects a refreshing take on the art of improvisation. Rather than set out to make comedy, it sets out to produce theatre, theatre that happens to be improvised. And so, unlike the shallow Family Guy-inspired scenes that flood the stages of other improv venues, Theatre Momentum’s works tend to have fleshed out characters and relationships and a more colorful emotional palette. Although the jokes aren’t shot at the audience in rapid-fire succession, when the situational humor arises, it is so much more satisfying.

The company’s new improvised show, University, does not disappoint. Director Henri Dugas IV has assembled an extraordinarily talented and dedicated crew, some of whom are not just talented improvisers but also talented actors. Although each show is bound to be different due to the nature of the form, the installment I saw reflected an adept cast with impeccable listening and recall skills.

University is a serial improv show. This means that the story that started at the show’s opening will continue until the show’s closing. All actors portray the same character throughout the show’s run. The program provides some background on the various characters that inhabit the fictitious university where the piece takes place, helping to provide some context for virginal audience members. Also, the cast is liberal with the use of context clues to help the uninitiated get up to speed.

Because this is a serial improv show, the plot of the production is bound to organically change from the installment I saw. So describing the plot is a little pointless. In short, University is a peak into the lives of a group of students and professors. To make things interesting (and to accurately reflect the sexually charged collegiate atmosphere) many of the characters are trying to get into each other’s pants. For instance, rambunctious harpist Ingrid (Bente Englesoft) has the hots for Professor Rose (Derek Van Barham). Meanwhile geeky Gregory (Peter Athans) is gaga for fellow student Lynn (Julie Chereson).

Van Barham and Theresa Ohanian (who portrays Dr. Marie Burbage) are exceptionally strong. They have wonderful chemistry together, and both adeptly broadcast a range of emotions through facial expressions alone. All performers are talented at the art of imbuing dialogue with subtext, a crucial talent in this form of improv. And hokey pop culture references are kept to a minimum, with a brief scene about the film “Panic Room” being the only standout example of this kind of cheap improv convention.

If you want to see a different kind of improv, one that is not so easily found in the established venues of Second City and iO, then check out University. The Theater Momentum production is consistently engaging and often deeply funny. Overall, it’s a clever show with a clever cast.


Rating: ★★★

Theatre Momentum’s University continues through August 13th at the Apollo Theatre Studio, 2540 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets are $8-$10, and can be purchased by phone (773-935-6100) or online at More information at


Theatre Momentum symbol - Chicago




Peter Athans, Laura Bloechl, Julia Chereson, Bente Engelstoft, Theresa Ohanian, Jon Sales, Harz Sondericker, Derek Van Barham, Zach Zimmerman

behind the scenes

Henri Dugas IV (director), Tony Rielage (artistic director)

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Big Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy in China

    Food Giants Manipulate Public Health Policy China

    Coca-Cola is at it again. As soda sales decline in the United States and Europe, beverage companies look to emerging economies like China for growth. And, it... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dietdoctor
  • Jewellery for a Precious You

    Jewellery Precious

    Jewellery is always close to a woman’s heart. It completes her look and boost confidence. Considering the changing trends in jewellery fashion, it becomes... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Dr.jenifer Sayyed
  • Rajshri Productions’ Next Is A Film On Friendship | Hum Chaar | Trailer

    Abhishek Dixit’s debut feature film Hum Chaar is a Bollywood film made under the banner of Rajshri’s film. Hum Chaar is written and directed by Abhishek Dixit. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
  • Saint Paul the First Hermit

    Saint Paul First Hermit

    Today is the feast day of Saint Paul the hermit. This is a sweet and delicate Oatmeal Bread topped with rolled oats and naturally sweetened with agave. Saint... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Veronica46
  • Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu | Teaser | Pranav Mohanlal | Arun Gopy

    Arun Gopy’s Irupathiyonnaam Noottaandu is an upcoming Malayalam action-drama feature film starring Pranav Mohanlal and Zaya David in the lead roles. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Themoviean
  • A Year Of Body Positivity

    Year Body Positivity

    Last January, as I sat there on New Years eve all set to make the same old resolutions I've made year after year for as long as I can remember, I realised how... Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Sparklesandstretchmarks
  • Garden Bloggers Bloom Day – Jan 2019

    Garden Bloggers Bloom 2019

    Euphorbia rigidaWhen I went out to take the photos for this blog post I was surprised at how much was in flower dotted around the garden. Read more

    The 15 January 2019 by   Patientgardener