January 26th, 2013 | by ENID SPITZ Arts & Books | Posted In: Comedy, Theater

Fertile Ground Diaries: Ruby Rocket, Private Eye

ruby rocketStacey Hallal
There is a dress-up bin, a black box and lots of booze onstage. That is all...until Stacey Hallal’s feisty and fiery Ruby Rocket stumbles onto the scene, Jack Daniels in hand, flaunting her hip-to-waist ratio. “This is my office.” She pushes the black box to the right. “This is the police station.” The box goes left.

Fertile Ground’s workshop production of Ruby Rocket, Private Eye is an unpredictable collage of audience-performer interaction, completely improvised by Curious Comedy Theater founder Hallal. From the drunken 007-esque opening, it’s clear that Ruby Rocket lacks Bond’s poise, but not his pageantry. The man-eating, whiskey-drinking private detective makes up for any deficiency in suaveness with plenty of spunk.

As improv goes, Hallal’s show depends on audience, so the act is best viewed with a larger, possibly tipsy, crowd. She calls out to the room at large, hijacks volunteers and distributes hats. In its best moments, Ruby Rocket becomes a witty act with audience engagement: “We were talking b’fore ‘bout core values,” Hallal slurs. “One a mine is whiskey.” At worst, it is a plotless romp in which characters bumble about and the audience feels forced to chuckle along. But when Hallal enjoys herself it’s obvious, making you really want to like her, despite an often shoddy plotline.

The show is just as much about Hallal and her lighting crew as it is about characters onstage. Ruby Rocket is a comedy of lighting mishaps and spotlighted monologues that both provide comedy and elicit respect for the challenges of a completely improvised show. Friday became “The Case of the Missing Beach Ball,” and who knows what other balls will go missing through the rest Ruby Rocket’s workshop run.

SEE IT: Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Blvd., 477-9477, curiouscomedy.org. 9:30 pm Saturday, Jan. 26. $12-$15.

 
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