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IN THE LAP OF THE THEATRE GODS

Print Version

The Wishing Tree
Director/Producer: Christine Brooks
Creator: Rama Nicholas (Impro Melbourne)
Wellington Improvisation Troupe  (WIT)

at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
From 8 Dec 2009 to 12 Dec 2009

Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 11 Dec 2009
originally published in The Dominion Post

In the foyer of Bats Theatre stands a wishing tree on which audience members can write (anonymously) on a piece of paper a wish, which is then tied onto a branch. When the show starts the tree is ceremoniously brought on stage and we are told that "to night two stars align" and that often Japanese gods wander through sacred forests and if they find your wish hanging on a tree they might make it come true.

The emphasis is on the word 'might' as the members of the improvisation team called WIT (Wellington Improvisation Troupe) are the gods who take your wish and do what they will with it, which may not necessarily be what you want though the rest of the audience will probably have had a good time laughing at the results.

This is of course a nice gimmick to get the improvisers interesting and off the-cuff material to exhibit their skills but they have a further challenge because half-a-dozen or so wishes are introduced and then played out in short sequences (as in TV comedy sketch programmes like Little Britain) throughout the hour long show until either their invention flags or the story can be brought to a neat conclusion.

Some of the wishes on the opening night were: I wish for serenity, I wish for a unified qualifications framework, I wish I had more time, and I wish to reignite my passion for life and creativity. Some of the wishes were fairly quickly dropped and others ran the course of the hour, but in each case the ten improvisers were involved whether as leading characters or as a prop such as a portrait of a dead husband or a ticking clock or an airport x-ray machine or as a passing pedestrian.

Like all improvisation shows each night is in the lap of the gods, and all I can say is that on the opening night the ten made me laugh a lot, they worked well as a team, and unlike TV's  Whose Line Is It Anyway? nothing can edited, which makes me admire their considerable theatrical bravery.
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See also reviews by:
 John Smythe
 John Smythe (2)
 Lori Leigh