BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

19/09/2013 - 19/09/2013

NZ Improv Festival 2013

Production Details

The unconstrained imaginations of the Reverend Jellie improvisers guarantees every tailor-made scene will travel unpredictable routes to surreal heights. Gain evil pleasure in making the troupe sweat with obscure scene suggestions and marvel at the quick wit that makes them flourish in spontaneity – leaving you with an insatiable appetite for more of the uproarious outcomes.

“…performed with a high degree of skill…recommended to anyone who loves improvised theatre and wants a laugh a minute for the full sixty.” –

…performed fantastically and never flinched.” –

With 17 shows in 5 days, the New Zealand Improv Festival is bound to tickle your tastebuds.
Book your tickets now at BATS Theatre (Out of Site)
($18 / $14)
or email to see all three shows in one night for $36! 

Date(s) – 19/09/2013
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Michael Fletcher
Chris Anderson
Matt Armstrong
Lorraine Macdonald 

55 mins

Bare bones clatter and sometimes dance

Review by Caoilinn Hughes 20th Sep 2013

At an improv festival, performers can expect audiences to be more comfortable with the art of improvisation than corporate-gig audiences. That familiarity can mean one of two things: that audience members have been so immersed in exemplary improv that their expectations are impossibly high, so the rapid-fire imaginations, performers’ openness, and the ingenuity of the form won’t cut it alone; or it could mean that they are as good as fellow performers: supportive, accepting, ‘saying yes’, engaging and trying at all times to build others up.

The latter is the case at improv troupe Reverend Jellie’s Cut to the Chase this Thursday night, and for the performers’ sakes – Michael Fletcher, Chris Anderson, Matt Armstrong, Lorraine Macdonald – it’s just as well.   

A less forgiving audience might have heckled the go-to sex jokes: goat-buggerers, let-me-slip-on-this-plastic-glove, lip-biting waiters serving up cupped meatballs. This limp humour isn’t because of laziness, quite the opposite: the four Auckland-based performers are enthusiastic and energetic and have clearly worked together for some time.

For me, their comic timing is not well suited to the bare-bones Whose Line Is It Anyway? format. The bones fairly clatter about the stage. Some format-padding would have helped.

They give one other no more than a single direction with which to interpret the boards: “San Fransisco,” or “Chris, go!” or “Winter.” Yes, this does challenge the performers, and it could be called pure improvisation, but on the other hand, it’s very, very hard to pull off.

They don’t make it any easier by cutting one another off with the ‘New Choice’ machete. This really exposes the imaginations of the performers (synaptic severances and all) – part of the fun, yes – but it can also be really dismissive: directors cut off some potentially poignant scenes with their dismembering.

Because ‘New Choice’ is used increasingly throughout the performance, it gives the impression that the performers are losing faith in their ability to realise a good scene. The audience is losing faith too. One of the characters does pay a visit to a priest, but nobody’s prayers are answered. Why they don’t pull out the ‘Different Choice’ machete on the ode-to-a-chair song, I can only put down to a blunt blade.

Lorraine Macdonald is by far the strongest performer here: she is unflinching, versatile, and does her best to carry the performance as a whole. She prompts the most exciting moment of the evening: a Punch & Judy gypsy violin recital, which musician Robbie Ellis frolicks-up at about one-second’s notice. He makes the skeletons dance.


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