Ben Johnson made every breath have the force of a locomotive lurching forward… he made one of drama’s most famously absurd monologues sound downright sensible. In one play, this performer’s range encompassed much of human evolution.
Improv Playhouse of San Francisco performed one of the most artful, elegant, outstanding pieces of unscripted theater that I’ve ever seen. A new member of my Top 10 has been found.
Tim, Regina, Lisa and Ben continue to raise the level of art and craft of improv. Seasoned playwrights would be envious of their story, plot structure, character development and dialogue. The night was inspired by magic and flawless acting. It felt like a privilege just being in the audience. Unforgettable scenes that linger, monologues that make you want to cry and a solid sense of ensemble. I laughed. I cried. I am in admiration.
The Improv Playhouse of San Francisco ensemble has been charting new and astonishing territory. Deeply engaging characters, honest laughs, sweet storylines, and dialogue to break the heart and warm the soul—all real theater, created live in the moment. Truly, this is top-of-the-form inspiring stuff.
Johnson delivers an enormous performance as the mostly silent, dejected Lucky. His one turn to speak is like watching a great tree come to life.
The arrival of James Carpenter’s Pozzo and Ben Johnson’s Lucky breathes fresh energy into the middle of the first act. Johnson is an unsettlingly feral picture of extreme servitude as Pozzo’s slave.
Ben Johnson offers bizarre personality and telling expressions in the mostly silent role of Lucky, only breaking out of his repetitious servant duties to give a short dance and to “think”… one of the most memorable moments of the play.
Johnson deservedly earned applause for the nonsensical monologue, which I’ve always thought that Beckett overdid (just what is the point of uttering obscure British place names?), that sums up the constant mental anguish clogging our brains.
Ben Johnson plays the egocentric Versati as if he were born to the role.
The show doesn’t get much better than the Center Repertory Company production… there are a surprising number of comic flourishes and details… This is due to Patrick Barlow’s no-prisoners script in the hands of a director, Mark Anderson Phillips, and a cast that has earned a reputation for swinging a big comic bat.
Ben Johnson is absolutely brilliant… He quickly gains your sympathy, but also your admiration. To put it simply, he connects with his audience.
[Ben Johnson] is able to manipulate the audience’s imagination, controlling his movements to the finest detail throughout the entire script.
Johnson… is simply superb. He draws the audience into his pain and it is real and palpable.
Ben presented what was, in my fifteen years at Tabor, the most well received performance by a visiting artist that I have ever seen.
Johnson is a seriously skilled juggler as well as an affecting actor… a true artist.
Whether miming mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a bug, jumping rope as a newborn sprouting an umbilical chord, or waxing poignant in his final scene, he adds more than is written down.
…a skilled juggler and a masterful mime… terribly funny.
…marvelous…ranges from sly to burlesque, serious to slapstick.
Students and faculty alike were quite impressed. Moving and very funny.
…a polished, captivating performance.
…a tremendous performance…Johnson has the ability to make the audience care about the character he plays.
[Ben Johnson] accomplishes a sort of gestural haiku, succinctly indicating emotions rather than telegraphing them.