STRANGE NON-STORY MADE SIDE-SPLITTINGLY FUNNY
PlayShop LIVE: SuperScene
Presented by PlayShop
at Paramount Theatre, Bergman Room, Wellington
From 6 Sep 2013 to 1 Nov 2013
Reviewed by Shannon Friday, 7 Sep 2013
The night starts with some improv games, familiar from Whose Line Is It Anyway. The games serve two purposes: we the audience get used to the idea of used to the idea of the actors making it up on the spot, and the actors get to check in with each other. Then the real work begins.
Four story beginnings are made up – one in the French Revolution, one in a high school movie, an audience member's imagined childhood in Rome, and the story of a mysterious toilet-plunging lady who never speaks. As an audience, we vote for our faves to stick around, NZ Idol style.
The best fun is watching the dynamics between the improvisers/actors as themselves as they work together, set up jokes for each other, and (just occasionally) throw each other under the bus.
The story of the night – quite surprisingly – winds up being a about competitive toilet plunging. The dedication and self-awareness of the actors taking on this challenge – and the fantastic interaction with pianist Oliver Devlin – make this strange non-story side-splittingly funny.
If I had a quibble, it would be that sometimes it seems the people onstage are giving us what we ask for rather than what we really want. Sure, sex and fart jokes are great, but the real joy is in watching the live problem solving in front of us. The occasional ‘crowd pleasing' crude joke doesn't really make me want more. But, like I said, that's a quibble; a concern over one or two moments late in the night, rather than something over-riding.
The whole evening is presided over by Daniel Pengelly, who is a master at handling a crowd: light-hearted and able to solve an early problem with a noisy drunk through relationship and laughter rather than power struggle.
The cast each have their strengths – from Brynley Stent's ability to further any idea, serious or silly; Jack Buchanan's messing with his fellow actors; Jimmy O'Donnelly's great character moments; or Patrick Carroll's understated ability to say exactly what I seemed to be thinking to the best comedic effect.
This was a fun, fun, night of entertainment, and I can't wait to go again.
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