Review: “IRTE Noir” at the Producers Club

Anthony J. Piccione

  • New York Theatre Critic

So I’ve had the chance, over the past few months or so, to gradually become more and more accustomed to the Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble, and how each of their comedy shows are structured around a scripted spoof of a certain theme, and more or less around a various object of some sort that is selected each night by a random audience member. That was the clear structure of their first two shows, and during IRTE Noir, it was also clear here…albeit with a few tweaks, along the way.

Conceived and directed by Curt Dixon, the show is – as the title might suggest – a spoof of an old-school, 1920s-style murder mystery, with one character being killed off early on, thus leading the detective (as portrayed by IRTE regular Robert Baumgardner) to determine whom among the rest of the ensemble committed the deed. Over the course of this comedic melodrama, I admit that I thought that I had figured it out myself, without evening looking at the supposed hints dropped by another character…only to have myself proven wrong toward the end!

The humor in this show relies heavily on the character types that each of the actors are portraying, and the energy with which they are portrayed. Admittedly, up until the aforementioned twist toward the end, the structure feels a bit too predictable, and the object chosen by the audience toward the beginning feels like a very minor detail that hardly affected the show, overall. If anything kept me following along, it was the way in which the actors – once again, a mix of IRTE regulars and guests – were able to portray the characters in a highly cartoonish manner, thus making the natural vibe of the show feel goofy and fun, in a good way.

Perhaps the best part about this particular show is how they successfully incorporated their musical guest, the talented and charismatic Tym Moss. I noticed in their last two shows that the musical guest that is part of their typical show structure didn’t necessarily fit perfectly with the rest of the show, but here, the guest is a crucial part of the show’s overall story, and a delightful highlight among all the performers.

While this show and its characters are not quite as captivating and over the top as their last two outings, overall, it is nonetheless a mildly entertaining experience, and one which I wish I’d had the chance to see earlier in its run, so I can recommend it. Still, with one more show left in their season, I expect this won’t be the last time I have the chance to offer my thoughts on the IRTE to the readers of this blog.

 “IRTE Noir” – presented by Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble – ended its run at the Producers Club on June 2nd. For more information on this group, please visit