Doom and Bloom REFLECT

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

05/09/2020 - 05/09/2020

Production Details

Doom & Bloom uses their new free-flowing improv format to explore characters who make tough choices, then reflect on the absurd, delightful, and torturous life paths that follow.

Will they happily accept their fate, or boldly take a second chance?

“Delightfully absurd, ingenious, gripping, delicious, bizarre, poignant…” – John Smythe, Theatreview

The new format is hilarious (and dramatic), and we can’t wait to share it with you.

Laurence Jonckheer, Ben Ratchford and Tony Yuile are bringing their talents to the opening act!

Join us after the show too, for a drink, some toasties, and a nerd out session with other improv fans/students about Wellington Improv!

This time only 40 seats, so please book early!

BATS Theatre, The Dome
Saturday, 5th September 2020
at 7pm
Full Price $16
Group 6+ $14
Concession Price $12
Group 6+ $10

Theatre , Improv ,

1 hr

A palpable and recognisable world constructed through improv

Review by Tim Grgec 06th Sep 2020

We’re in a “crazy Level 2 world,” remarks Ben Zolno – one half of Doom and Bloom – in his opening address to the audience. It’s a crazy world indeed. The audience members in facemasks are a stark reminder that the privilege of social gatherings still hangs precariously in the balance. Yet Reflect, the latest show from the existential improv duo, is uninterested with our unfolding public health drama. Instead, experienced players Brendan ‘Monty’ West and Ben Zolno showcase themselves as perceptive commentators on ordinary life. 

Existential theatre is longer and more realistic than typical slapstick improv. At an uninterrupted fifty minutes, with only one prompt from the audience, Reflect allows Doom and Bloom time to explore fully a selection of improvised characters. With humour and pathos, West and Zolno move between a myriad of personalities, revealing a series of totally convincing perspectives that find new ways of looking at what’s already familiar.

The show begins with a simple provocation. Doom and Bloom ask us about a moment of significant change in our lives, the kind of change one looks back on and realises one could’ve handled differently. “A break up,” a man in the front row replies, wishing for a second chance at love. Wondering how things might’ve turned out differently.  

Doom & Bloom immediately transport us into a scene: a newlywed couple fighting on their wedding night about how to iron bedsheets. Such trivial preferences between the two reveal a much deeper division on the expectations of love. It’s both absurd yet utterly believable. All with dashes of bizarre humour, like the two sharing aphrodisiac liquorice – a bridal tradition, we’re told, passed down for generations.

From there we move fluidly between characters, each one introduced from the margins of the scene. We meet a war veteran pastor who creates biblical analogies from his service during The Bay of Pigs Invasion. There’s a possessive father-of-the-bride at war with his ex-wife. Even the inappropriately drunk cousin seen at every wedding makes an appearance, stumbling over themselves on the dance floor.  

At its grittiest, Reflect captures those moments of being ill-equipped to express one’s emotions. Zolno and West are masters of restraining all that’s left unsaid. Some of the most momentous conversations are never fully articulated. Characters stutter and second-guess themselves, making the consequences of such evasion all the more unfortunate.  

Doom and Bloom make only one misstep. A mistake in the sequencing of characters means a helpless fifteen-year-old briefly finds himself dancing with the wrong person at the wedding. But it’s all part of the fun.

Reflect is ultimately a show about how we connect with others. The brilliance of Doom & Bloom is their attention to ordinary detail. The two are successful in constructing a palpable and recognisable world: one made from all the conversations of our inane, everyday reality. 


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