Charming, buoyant and self-assured, Dayna Hanson’s “Improvement Club” is a Seattle comedy not quite like any other.
Featuring some of the city’s most respected artists and performers playing themselves in an increasingly absurd tale of a luckless dance troupe, the film has broad appeal as a portrait of good intentions gone awry.
Hanson, a real-life choreographer and director whose theater work “The Clay Duke” just completed a run at On the Boards, presents a movie version of herself as a somewhat insecure artistic director of a fringe-dance company.
Struggling through workshops of a quirky new production, Hanson and her troupe are invited to take the show to New York — then are bluntly uninvited when a bad review tarnishes the project.
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Grasping at salvation, Hanson accepts a proposal from a rural-community theater to stage the dance there. Her consent sets into motion a ceaseless and very funny series of disasters involving everything from a broken van to a skinhead rock group.
Hanson takes a breezy, relaxed approach to filmmaking, never getting in the way of a good visual joke and coaxing wonderfully loose, self-deprecating acting from such Seattle dance and music stalwarts as Wade Madsen, Jessie Smith, Dave Proscia and especially Peggy Piacenza — who dons a cheesy-looking eagle mask and red lingerie for the troubled dance piece.
Hanson also proves a rigorous, inventive film director, making every shot interesting and infusing “Improvement Club” with welcome bursts of goofy, unapologetic joy.
Tom Keogh: email@example.com