Imagine being asked to give a ten-minute Powerpoint presentation on a topic you aren't given until you begin, using random slides you've never seen before. In addition, the slides have nothing to do with your topic, but you must incorporate them into your presentation anyway, using a laser pointer.
Part improv, part TV game show and part payback for being forced to sit through far too many Powerpoint speeches, host Sammy Wegent's "Speechless" can get really funny and is always fresh and interesting. Like all improv, things can slow down and it's uncomfortable when they do, but most of the time you are on the edge of your seat wondering how the contestant is going to avoid stepping on his/her latest visual landmine.
The auduence is young and silicone-valley hip. It's boisterous like Singles Night at your local pub, loud, irreverent and swirling with hipster language and double entendres you don't always understand -- the ones about sex, yes, but the ones about startups and coding, not so much. The contestants are serious but the judges are in it for the laughs, because what they think doesn't matter. The winner is chosen by the audience texting to a predetermined address.
Bottom line: it's a lot of fun. Keep in mind that parking at Public Theatre is problematic, despite two empty and unused city-owned lots next door. "Speechless" runs once a month and the place is packed. Get there early to get a good seat.
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division says Hey, it's improv. You might catch a Three Star Night and you might catch a Four Star Night, depending on the luck of the draw. Ours was worth Three Stars Plus a BANGLE OF PRAISE because we hate Powerpoint too, but also with a Bauble of Despair for the amateurish warmup act. So Three Stars sounds about right.
Public Works Theater
161 Erie Street, San Francisco
Every third Thursday of the month
$12 advance $20 at door