BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

25/02/2015 - 28/02/2015

NZ Fringe Festival 2015 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

Definitely Not Witches Definitely Aren’t 

Pay no attention to the bubbling cauldron in the corner. We are merely making soup. 

Following a wave of bizarre weather events, mysterious happenings and spontaneous frog transformations of local politicians, the women who claim to be Definitely Not Witches held a press conference to address accusations of harnessing the powers of nature to collude with nefarious powers for personal gain.

“All allegations made as to the nature of our coven sorry, improv troupe are completely unfounded and slanderous,” said Caitlin McNaughton, theatre maker, improvisor and definitely not a witch. Despite a light rain falling, Ms McNaughton appeared to be entirely dry. 

“It’s truly preposterous,” said Christine Brooks, pausing briefly to brush frogspawn off her long black cloak and adjust her wide brimmed black hat. “We vehemently deny all accusations and invite all who would speak ill against our good name to come and see the evidence for our case.” 

“Our show Definitely Not Witches will provide opportunity for us to demonstrate once and for all that we are very ordinary, simple women, who certainly do not possess any kind of magical powers,” said Jennifer O’Sullivan in response to a reporter who was mysteriously silenced following her steely glare. 

Members Rose Cann and Abby Howells were unavailable for comment, as they had important other business to attend to. At the time of writing a huge swirling vortex spiraling above the Mt Victoria lookout that started around the same time had not yet abated. 

About the company

Born from the collaboration that was ‘Taking off the Bird Suit’ (June 2014, BATS Theatre), Definitely Not Witches are a new improv ensemble inspired to work together and bring their own brand of hilarity to the Wellington stage. Catch them in their debut, eponymous performance this Fringe and enjoy an hour improvised hour of theatrical fun as these clever, funny notwitches weave stories and characters from nothing. It’s almost magic…

Featuring the combined talents of Christine Brooks, Rose Cann, Abby Howells, Caitlin McNaughton and Jennifer O’Sullivan. 

Praise for Taking Off The Bird Suit:
“Thoroughly and consistently entertaining and, most importantly, hilarious” Word on the Street 

Definitely Not Witches 
BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Terrace 
Dates: 25-28 February 2015
at 9:00pm
Tickets: $18/$14/$12 Addict Card Holders 

More Info: , 
Find us on Facebook (Definitely Not Witches) or tweet us @defsnotwitches

Full of favourite moments

Review by Shannon Friday 26th Feb 2015

Likes: All talented improv’ers; how the setup of this show celebrates failure. 

Dislikes: Some of the scene setups are harder than others.

Defnitely Not Witches is a show right in my wheelhouse [a baseball term meaning right where I want it – ed].

The game of the evening is that all the performers (Rose Cann, Jen O’Sullivan, Abby Howells, Christine Brooks, and Caitlin McNaughton) have been accused of witchcraft.  They must prove their innocence through “trial by story”, because everyone knows witches are the best storytellers. 

As an audience, we vote on whether a story is great, and the creator is a witch – and then get burned at the end of the night – or whether a show is normal and the creator lives.  It’s a great improv setup, allowing the performers to celebrate storytelling failure.  The setup could be clearer in one respect – are the scenes meant to come back, or do they disappear after their initial round?  I’m cool with either, but I’m not sure what I’m voting for, the person or the scene. 

The focus on setup allows for some delightfully random sketches, including juggling knives in the living room, Spanish capsicum lovers trying to overthrow La Tomatina (the giant tomato smashing festival), and a Star Wars encounter in the Millennium Falcon that breaks me a little bit. 

When it comes to short-form improv, I love watching performers throw each other under the bus. For me, it only gets interesting when someone is either failing at something they think they know how to do, or succeeding where they think they can’t. And these are my favourite moments of the night at Definitely Not Witches.

Christine Brooks’ amazingly entertaining ‘fail’ as R2-D2 is one of the best things of my day, as is watching Abby Howells try to convince a bunch of teenage girls that she is totally not a robot.  Conversely, Rose Cann’s torch song about quitting her job at Starbucks is a battle cry for an entire generation of underpaid service industry workers.  We’ve all been there, and I wish I had quit a job with that much style. 

Jennifer O’Sullivan is particularly good at finding a setup or challenge that lets people play, and Christine Brooks and Rose Cann are great at side-coaching to raise the performance stakes – a silent scene about flossing goes from ‘OK’ to ‘pretty darn great’ after being encouraged to become a dance scene. 

The performers are supported by some amazing improv music by Amand Gerbault-Gaylor, whose instant scoring adds the right amount of atmosphere or tension to scenes.  The lighting from Mary Little is quick and responsive. 

Babysitters Club, and I’m pretty excited for that one.  I’m keen to see them play together again.

This group will be playing together again at the Comedy Festival in Definitely Not the Babysitters Club, and I’m pretty excited for that one. I’m keen to see them play together again.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council