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

20/09/2013 - 20/09/2013

NZ Improv Festival 2013

Production Details

Hoorah! Grab lashings of Ginger Beer and prepare for Timmy to get licky. Those Jolly Hockeysticks ConArtists are back to improvise through a spiffing escapade in the style of beloved children’s author Enid Blyton. The Thrusting Three, The Silly Six or perhaps The Frisky Four will solve epic adventures involving pesky adults with the help of their good solid English Values and immensely sensible shoes. Oh, and they’ll probably eat some scones too. Warning: May contain grown men in shorts.

“A marvellous time is had by all. Jane Austen would turn in her grave with delight! … Rollicking fun!” Austen Found, Rip It Up Adelaide February 2010

“As the tale unfolds it becomes obvious what consummate professionals they are…” Bite Me, May 2010

After the smash hit sell-out success of Austen Found: The Undiscovered Musicals of Jane Austen (NZIF 2008) we suggest you should be prepared (like Baden Powell) and book early.

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 book@bats.co.nz to see all three shows in one night for $36!

Date(s) – 20/09/2013
8:00 pm – 9:00 pm

55 mins

Jolly good show. Hoorah!

Review by Hannah Smith 21st Sep 2013

As a child I devoured Enid Blyton books. There is something about the jolly-hockey-sticks atmosphere that fills me with nostalgia for an English childhood that I only ever experienced through fiction.  This peculiarity of a particular kind of post-colonial upbringing makes me the perfect audience for Enid Untold, an improv show based on Blyton’s adventures for young people, performed by Auckland improv stalwarts The Con Artists.

Clearly I am not the only one.  The Oxbridge accents, shorts and knee-high socks have the BATS audience in stitches before the show even gets started.  Chuck in a bit of the casual sexist, racist and classist commentary which peppers Blyton’s work, and we are away laughing. 

The Con Artists as a company consistently turn up with solid, well-constructed shows: formats with a strong structure and clearly defined mandate.  It is always nice to feel you are in safe hands, and Enid Untold does not disappoint.

Blyton is perfect fodder for a long form improv structure.  The narratives are formulaic with satisfying story points, and once the goodies and baddies are set up everyone knows exactly how things will pan out. Adventure! Mystery! Gypsies! Ginger Beer!

We are taken on an adventure to the Cove of Despair, where Bartholomew (Robert Mignault) and his two cousins (Lori Dungey and Madeleine Lynch) accompanied by faithful hound Jolly Roger, have to outwit two filthy Gypsies (Lori Dungey and Geoff Dolan) in order to claim some golden brooches for the British Empire. 

It is exactly as silly as it sounds; a hilarious up-and-down ride with excellent moments from all players – though Dungey, in particular, shines.

Something that often bothers me about improv is the prevalence of two dimensional stereotypes – a kind of short-hand for character which often comes across as racist or sexist.  In this format, though, a casual cultural bias is totally appropriate, and we are given license to laugh at things which we normally wouldn’t. 

A parody of Enid Blyton is always going to be compared to the classic Comic Strip Presents Five Go Mad in Dorset, and the Con Artists manage to pull off an improvised spoof that combines classic Blyton with the jokes about her work that have become familiar. 

I expect this format will be back again in the New Zealand Comedy Festival next year, so hopefully you’ll get a chance to see it then.  Jolly good show. Hoorah!


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