Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

14/05/2014 - 17/05/2014

NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

Production Details

Ferris Wheel – Revolutionary comedy at every turn 

Step right up folks and have a good time. Witness the amazing Ferris Wheel. This hit show from the Covert Theatre returns.  

It will have you in stitches as you enjoy watching world-class improvised comedy – all set at the top of a Ferris Wheel

Come along ladies and gents, come along. Make sure you see this show that has all the fun of a carnival – without the rip-off sideshows.  


Dates:  Wed 14 – Sat 17 May, 7pm 
Venues:  Musgrove Studio 
Tickets:  Adults $20.00, Conc. $18.00 
Groups 5+ $18.00* service fees may apply 
Bookings:  09 308 2383 

Varying degrees of satisfaction

Review by Nik Smythe 15th May 2014

The ‘Ferris Wheel’ sign in a circussy font with lightbulbs all round it, framing three seats with a metal safety bar, arouses curiosity as to what is to follow as tonight’s Covert cast of fourteen enters.  Comprising a fairly diverse range of gender, age and ethnicity, team leader Wade Jackson introduces them simply as “the cast”.  

Jackson facilitates the selection of five groupings – four of three and one duo – and it’s on.  No fussing about warming us up or explaining the premise, we’re simply told this is a 100% improvised show and the format is left to explain itself. 

So, the deal is each small group performs a two-minute scene in the Ferris Wheel compartment, until the lights fade down, and they switch for the next group.  It’s an ingeniously versatile premise, considering any given carnival ride might contain any of countless assortments of age, race and class.  The Ferris Wheel is particularly ideal for this purpose, since it’s a slow ride with people trapped together so the ‘drama’ has time to build and develop.

On the first cycle through, it’s apparent the actors are establishing their characters and scenarios for themselves, which of course is always part of the intrigue with improvisation.  By the third time around the stories have begun to intermingle as people reference characters from the ‘other’ compartments, building on eachothers’ offers and taking them to another level: another essential aspect of improv.   

To attempt a summary of tonight’s plot: An incompetent KGB spy reports to his long-suffering commander on his infiltration of the NZ government.  Meanwhile another KGB agent (the cold war really never died for some people) is plotting to blow up the Soviet-built ride using a bomb planted in the cellphone camera of two super-lame youtube extreme jackass types stapling sensitive parts of their body to the compartment and bungee-jumping off. 

Elsewhere, an impertinent carrier pigeon harasses a man with multiple personalities who is on an internet date with a married woman, whose newlywed husband it turns out is the uptight sap in yet another compartment, suffering through the ride with his exasperatingly deaf and perverted father-in-law. 

The bomber has a change of heart, having successfully won the heart of his old cold-war flame whom he’s stalked down to this point, so they send her daughter off to climb around to retrieve the phone-bomb and hurl it to relative safety before it goes off. 

Something like that anyway. Another effect the Ferris Wheel setting has is that the actors can take their sweet time, often doing virtually nothing for noticeable lengths of time but retaining our attention throughout.  There are a few unfortunately dropped offers and lost plot lines, and the occasional inconsistent reassignment of characters or props due to the actors’ confusion.

All in all, though, there are easily enough successfully fielded offers to make up for the handful that don’t pan out so well.  The scenes cycle around five times, with varying degrees of satisfaction in the ways each one wraps up on their final pass. Understandable really, given the complexity five interweaving plots inevitably generates. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council