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PlayShop LIVE: Guest Designer
Artistic Director: Daniel Pengelly

at Paramount, Wellington
From 2 Aug 2013 to 6 Sep 2013

Reviewed by John Smythe, 17 Aug 2013

Last night in Courtenay Place was atypical. It was like a weeded garden with just a few diehard perennials standing their ground in defiance of the earthquakes and aftershocks that had disrupted our day.

A goody number gather at The Paramount for their weekly Friday night dose of PlayShop LIVE, which kicks off at 10.15-ish. The Bergman Theatre offers a small patch of floor in front of the screen upon which this improv troupe gets to work their alchemy. Most of us keep well away from the exposed brick wall …

The ‘Guest Designer' device allows props to be made on-the-spot – this night by Crystalyne Willis – to randomly provoke actions and interactions, along with the usual audience ‘ask fors', corralled by MC Daniel Pengelly and enhanced by Musician Amand Gerbault-Gaylor. 

Thus a spy story evolves involving Escargot and an Nutrigrain factory in Paris; a Pirates v Ninjas tale pits Scallywag Jones against Ninja Steve; a frayed cylinder becomes a mutant forearm in a Horror story; deep philosophical questions about Love play out in a Kardashians-style Reality scene; another prop becomes an accordion which provokes a wordless dance scene; Mermaids are the educational topic in a challenge round; a weird thingy is declared to be a mind-control device in a cod-Shakespearean drama of exile and witchcraft; A German fable dishes out a dodgy moral …

Not bad ‘something from nothing' alchemy for an hour. The players - Hamish Parkinson, Rose Cann, Oliver Devlin, Ralph McCubbin Howell and special guest Jennifer O'Sullivan – all contribute strongly, aligning and challenging as required to keep things ticking along.

A great way to end a shaky Friday.
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