Double Dipping: Queen and Friend / The Mechanical

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

11/10/2023 - 11/10/2023

NZ Improv Festival 2023

Production Details

Produced by the NZ Improv Fest

Get two outstanding Australian improv shows for the price of one, with Double Dipping!

Queen and Friend is a an exciting choose-your-own-adventure improvised comedy show where the audience decides what happens next. Use your phone to pick who lives, who dies, and who has committed tax fraud. Join improvisers Imogen Behan-Willett and Mark Grimes as they go on a hilarious journey with you in the driver’s seat right next to them.

They’ll be followed by The Mechanical:

Tom Snout, fresh from his triumph as ‘A Wall’ in Pyramus and Thisbe, finds himself alone on stage without his fellow Mechanicals and not a script in sight. Still determined to entertain the audience with an action-packed theatrical dramatical, Tom will have to rely on audience suggestions and his own can-do attitude to make sure the show does indeed go on. It’s a fast-paced, character-laden whirlwind of improvised theatre that will leave you breathless.

BATS Theatre, 11 Oct, 7pm
Tickets $20-$40

Imogen Behan-Willett (she/her)
Mark Grimes (he/him)
Rik Brown (he/him)

Tristram Domican

Improv , Theatre ,

60 mins

Together they create one hysterically high spirited experience

Review by Shemaia Dixon 12th Oct 2023

The concept of ‘Queen and Friend’ is brilliant. The idea of the audience using their phones to decide the storyline of the show is reminiscent of childlike fun that anyone would enjoy. As I wait in the foyer, I overhear various audience members being asked for a suggested location and secret to be used for the show. I am then approached and asked the same question. The suggestions I overhear from other audiences fill me with excitement for what’s to come.

As the lively audience is seated we are greeted by Queen and Friend (Imogen Behan-Willett and Mark Grimes). The duo explain that the audience will use their phones to vote for their preferred suggestions at certain points of the show, then begin.

Queen and Friend make a brilliantly hilarious team. The duo have fabulous chemistry and seamlessly switch between various characters. Friend sitting on Queen’s knee elicits a sea of laughter from the audience as the pair seamlessly switch characters with each other yet again. The gift of choice is another method of audience engagement that works just as brilliantly as hoped.

Operator Tristram Domican sets the mood for each audience vote as he uses lighting to change the atmosphere and puts the possible choices on the screen. Even when the location chosen is Gore, a New Zealand town neither Australian performer is particularly familiar with, Queen and Friend lean into it and use their unfamiliarity with their characters’ hometown to further entertain the audience.

Each choice the performers make engages the audience further. The only complaint I have is that I am left wanting more, particularly, more audience voted choices. But more audience voting would result in a longer show, which there is understandably not enough time for. However, ‘Queen and Friend’ is a duo that I could happily watch for twice as long.

As the audience is still high from the energy of ‘Queen and Friend’, the switch to ‘The Mechanical’ is seamless. The audience sings along to the transition music as the stage is reset. Tom Snout (Rik Brown) then takes the stage, revealing that he will be preforming solo, without his fellow Mechanicals. Tom Snout uses words suggested by the audience in his show. These words are written on a whiteboard and crossed out when spoken. The words are rarely used where expected, making for a thoroughly engaging experience.

Tom seamlessly engages with the audience whenever crossing a word of the whiteboard (or almost crossing one off). He plays with the chosen words in a hilarious fashion. He uses the audiences words to perform ‘The Tale of The Gross Plumber’ and makes the audience howl with laughter as he dynamically tells the story of a broken waterpipe, a love story and a man who loves the scent of onions.

A particular highlight is the audience-selected word Toboggan. After describing a snow covered mountain, Tom waits as the audience emits a gasp of anticipation before riding down the mountain in a bubble. Tom manages the impossible feat of not only playing multiple characters, but having fabulous onstage chemistry with himself. ‘The Mechanical’ is a show I would happily see again and again.

Combining these two 30 minute Australian shows into one Double Dipping experience is a stroke of genius. ‘Queen and Friend’ and ‘The Mechanical’ complement each other beautifully and combine to create one hysterically high spirited experience. Hopefully, these three talented performers will grace our shores again soon. 


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