To look at it one way, the latest show from Dad's Garage, an original comedy by Perry Frost called "10 Ways to Ruin Everything," is more of the same old thing for the popular improv company — a silly, anything-goes series of episodic skits about some truly epic (if somewhat lesser known) failures throughout history.
But what a difference a brand-new venue seems to make.
Since losing its longtime lease in the Inman Park area, and after a year or two performing out of 7 Stages in Little Five Points, the troupe settled into its own permanent space back in January, a fabulously refurbished church building in the Old Fourth Ward district.
The seating capacity of the actual theater, situated upstairs, has nearly doubled from that of Dad’s earlier home, and there also looks to be a lot more room on and back stage for the cast and crew to execute all of the group’s patented, highly physical shtick.
With the possible exception of a couple of Christmas parodies the company mounted at the Alliance (e.g., 2014’s “It’s a Wonderful Laugh!”), stylish production values were rarely much of a factor in most of its earlier shows.
In director Matt Horgan’s staging of “10 Ways,” it’s as though the upgraded facilities have somehow enabled his designers to up their games accordingly: Jamie Bullins’ functional set features a number of large, movable wooden boxes and crates; Conan Joshua Santamaria gives the lighting a sharp detail; and the quickly changing period costumes of Abby Parker are impressive (right down to the Nike Air Jordans).
Given the historical sweep and hysterical inclinations of the show — and however variable the different vignettes — Horgan maintains a suitably frenetic pace throughout, and his six actors deliver the ribald routines with a rapid-fire abandon. One impromptu musical interlude (music direction by David Keeton) offers a snappy Hawaiian twist on Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.”
Veteran Dad’s improviser Amber Nash leads the cast as a scruffy homeless street preacher and tour guide of sorts. The others include J. Hill, Rueben Medina and Andre Castenell Jr., each playing a multitude of characters. On opening night, playwright Frost stepped in for Whittney Millsap.
Harriss Callahan proves to be the most consistently funny and versatile member of the ensemble, whose bits range from Sherlock Holmes and Sweden’s King Gustav Adolf to a toxic mutant of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and even Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.
Par for the course with such material, other anachronistic references (to everything from Applebee’s to Park Atlanta) abound – and some of the skits are more engaging and on point than others. Among the better is a veritable highlight reel involving “gender politics” and various famous (and infamous) women through the ages. Among the lesser is a segment about the 1919 mishap at a Boston molasses factory.
“10 Ways” may not add up to much on the whole, but in small doses, the show suffices, mainly worth checking out as an excuse to dig Dad’s spacious new “garage.”