Improv Angels

BATS Theatre, Wellington

24/04/2008 - 26/04/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


You helped them find love in ‘Love Possibly’, and now the Improv Divas are back, taking on an adrenaline fuelled kick-ass adventure: Improv Angels – Fighting Improvised Crime.

Produced and performed by a female ensemble from Wellington Improvisation Troupe (WIT), the Improv Divas will take you on an hour long improvised journey at BATS Theatre. Can they spontaneously solve the latest mysterious crime wave, lock away the super villain … and save New Zealand? 

Bringing Improv Angels to the stage are Diva incumbants Clare Kerrison, Christine Brooks, and Jen Mason, and WIT newcomers Anna Burns and Merrilee McCoy. The femme fatales are ready to kick off their day shoes put on their sexy pants, and fight Kiwi crime the likes of which Farrah Fawcet, Starsky and Hutch, and Lethal Weapon have never seen!

"I’ve always wanted to be in a kick-ass show, and now I have my chance!" says Anna Burns. "Oh, and I’m especially thrilled about wearing sexy heels …"

The Improv Divas, NZ’s only all-female improv troupe, have featured in a number of WIT productions, including Saturday Night Divas (Comedy Festival 2007), The Young and the Witless, an improvised soap opera (Fringe Festival 08), Love Possibly, To Be Continued, Gorilla Theatre, and Micetro – Improv Comedy.

Most recently the Improv Divas were graced with the presence of international improvisation tutor and Artistic Director of Impro Melbourne, Patti Stiles. Patti led a workshop building on the work of Keith Johnstone, founder of the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary, Canada, where stories are the key to good improvisation.

Long form improvisation and storytelling have become a mainstay of WIT performances. The Divas look forward to adding to the strong reputation already enjoyed by WIT and proving once more that the girls can go it alone.

‘I deal with enough petty crime in my day job,’ says Jen. ‘Stapler thefts and the like. I’ve got my sight set on bigger and badder things now – it’s time to take on the big boys!’

Dates: April 24th – 26th, 9.30pm  
Venue BATS, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
Tickets: Adults $16, Concessions and Groups of 8+$13 (service fees may apply)
Bookings: BATS – 04 802 4175 or 

1hr, no interval

Hilarious sheer madness

Review by Uther Dean 05th May 2008

"They’ll never know we’re not children!" – An Improv Angel breaking into a treehouse (by way of a sand pit) to save the world from snow and generosity.

There were several points while watching The Improv Angels when I laughed so hard I couldn’t see. And I wasn’t alone. Which, really, is all you need to know.

With apologies for lazy deconstructionism, it needs to be said just how improv, as both a form and a genre, makes somewhat of a mockery of any attempt to analyse or criticise it to any deep or worthwhile degree. It so quickly and easily answers the key questions one so normally asks of any theatre piece. What is it trying to do? Entertain. Does it succeed? Yes. Is that worth doing in the first place? Of course. I mean, how can you hate being entertained? It is what separates us from the animals and the morally inept.

So, what is there to say about The Improv Angels other than that on a scale of one to entertaining it punches in at rather hilarious and very worth your time? Really we are left with the hows and the whys. And ‘why’ is a much too depressing question to ask in any situation at best. So we’re stuck with ‘how’. 

How?! How is it so funny? Well, of course, blame for the funny needs to be squarely laid at the feet of the Angels themselves (Anna Burns, Christine Brooks, Jen Mason and Merrilee McCoy) who, along with their Charley (Clare Kerrison) and Musician cum Bosley (whose name I sadly didn’t manage to catch over the rapturous applause [Jeff Abbot – ed]), are a veritable squadron of wonderful. They clearly are the kind of improv machine that is so tightly wound and well-oiled that everything that comes out of it seems completely spontaneous, out of control and alive.

It is this final point – the aliveness – that is the most important. Improv is the only form of comedy where, I believe, its faults are its stimulus. To get a bit ‘wanky’ on you, Antony Sher in his book Year of the King (which is very probably the second greatest book on the acting process ever written and if you love theatre and haven’t read it you, to quote Chris Morris, are both wrong and a grotesquely ugly human being) asks, "Why is an actor’s unintentional giggling called a ‘corpse’? It seems to me quite the opposite. It proves that they’re very much alive, and can still tell how silly this all is." 

Herein lies the very key to improv for (with obvious and annoying exceptions) it is the only brand of theatre that really allows the actors to directly and completely acknowledge the sheer madness of what is actually going on. So, hooray for The Improv Angels. They’re doing something insane and they know it and you know it and that’s awesome and you should go.


Make a comment

A slow burn that really delivers

Review by Patrick Davies 28th Apr 2008

Yes Charlie is back! This time with four Improv Angels! Based upon the 70’s crime fighting TV series our titular team save New Zealand from a fate worse than the previous night’s.

The audience provide suggestions that the double duo turn into a sometimes shaky, sometimes brilliant show. Clare Kerrison, after a quick warm up, provides a director’s outside eye as ‘Charlie’, moving the story along and providing suggestions to her onstage crew. The show follows the TV format – the night’s ‘gig’ is introduced (via suggestions form the audience) and the girls are into the action; there’s the investigation, the undercover roles, the race to find the baddie, the final confrontation and a good old hand to hand fight with 70’s TV judo – coiffed hair and hands that could kill.

I did miss the call from Charlie at the beginning – it’s such a staple of the show that I’m surprised its not there. The first night was a little tentative at times but I’m sure it’ll tighten up now they’ve opened.

The ‘Angels’ (Christine Brooks, Jen Mason joined by able newcomers Anna Burns and Merrilee McCoy) work well as a team, all comfortable leading scenes and playing off each other. Four blocks, two wings and lights create multiple settings where anything can happen and it usually does. Onstage action is ably accompanied by Muso Jeff Abbot and Jo Eggers on lights.

There’s always a lot to remember during long format shows as all the clues, suggestions and diversions get incorporated into an ever developing plot and these ladies are adept at playing with each other and tying it all up by the end.

All-men improv can come across as a very assertive get-in-there style; Improv Divas is a welcome balance where the female energy is on a slow burn that really delivers. The noisy opening night crowd followed the ins and outs easily and responded with cheers to the delightful sight of strong women playing strong roles in a very funny, wacky and great show.

[Note: Viral problems kept this review isolated at source for a few days, hence the lateness. – ed]


jaro April 28th, 2008

This was a GREAT show !! I really enjoyed it and wish all the gals great success :-)

Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council