It Came From Beyond the Script

BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

13/10/2023 - 13/10/2023

NZ Improv Festival 2023

Production Details


Created/directed by Malcolm Morrison


Aliens have invaded! Vampires are stalking the night! The Thing From The Lake is being a general nuisance! For some reason, it’s all happening in a small, nowhere, 1960’s town. But we can’t worry about that, because the town fair is opening in just 3 days! Sally and Kate are getting married! But the Mayor – Sally’s dad – won’t let that happen because Kate comes from the wrong family!

ICFBTS is an improvised retro-horror/comedy, integrating numerous tech elements. The audience decides the title of the episode and will discover what new horrors await our lovable cast of quaint characters.

The show is cast from a workshop full list here

13 Oct, 7pm, BATS Theatre
$20-$40


Performers
Bianca Casusol (she/her)
Franziska Maciej (she/her)
Imogen Behan-Willett (she/her)
Luke Foale (they/them)
Luke Rimmelzwaan (He/him)
Matías Avaca (he/him)

Operator
D' Woods


Improv , Theatre ,


60 mins

Tropes of the genre traversed to satisfying effect

Review by John Smythe 14th Oct 2023

This episode of the retro-horror/comedy series It came From Beyond The Script came from a bucket of ‘ask fors’. Punters waiting in the BATS foyer have written inventive titles on slips of paper and dropped them in said bucket – from which, up in the BATS Dome space, Director Malcolm Morrison and Tech Operator D’ Woods have randomly plucked one and punched it into the clever film noir-esque projection that introduces the show.

Presumably the players – Bianca Casusol, Ranziska Maciej, Imogen Behan-Willett, Luke Foale, Luke Rimmelzwaan and Matías Avaca – first see the title when we do: The Singing Girl With No Mouth. Keyboard player Liam Kelly delivers the first of the many portentous chords that he’ll counterpoint with lighter touches.

The evolving improv populates a generic small town called Sweetview, previously known, it will emerge, as Sweetville. (Was this in the hope that someone, or thing, would not be able to find it?)

Ingrid is a senior investigative journalist and her promotion means she and her partner Phyllis may soon be able to buy a small cottage and plant sunflowers. But the Mayor is adamant there is NO news in town and she is to write NOTHING. This sounds like blocking but isn’t – although there are a couple of times down the track when his emphatic “NO!” feels marginal.  

The Mayor has mentioned ‘The Incident’ in early conversation with his minion Mani, leaving open exactly what ‘The Incident’ was, while declaring, “It cannot happen again.” Mani claims to be able to hear what the birds are saying – cue tinkling of ivories – but can’t quite decode it. Do they know something the Mayor wants to keep secret? Is Mani really a Song Whisperer or is he quietly going mad?

Ingrid’s Uncle Lionel and Aunty Brigitte are facing the closure of their Sweet View Singing Academy because they’ve had no students since ‘The Incident’ – which turns out to have been 10 years ago. Mani and Brigitte are siblings, I think.

There are plenty of setups, then, that are built on, further explored and later somewhat resolved as The Singing Girl With No Mouth evolves. The bird song begins to sound like a woman singing: simultaneously beautiful and just a bit spooky. Her distinctive musical phrase wafts on the breeze which members of the audience (many of them improvisers) pick up – a delicious touch.

It emerges that the story Ingrid was told as a child about how her mother died, down a well, was a cover up and the Mayor knows more than he’s letting on. Is he dangerous or doing his best to protect others? It also transpires that various people are more closely related than they’ve realised, with birthmarks on forearms to prove it.

Spoiler alert (except it’s not because this is never-to-be-repeated improv): Ingrid’s mother was the original Song Whisperer and the Mayor had to rip out her vocal chords to save people, Phyllis in particular, we will finally discover.

Meanwhile the scrim front panel of the stage right wing has become a screen for shadow play whereby, one-by-one, people become entranced by the singing of a supernatural being and meet their demise at her disembodied hands. This gradually depletes the number of players available to continue the ‘real world’ story – until Mani the Song Whisperer decodes the birdsong at last, learns how to destroy the spectre of the singing girl with no mouth and bring everyone back to life.

This leaves me somewhat confused as to whether it’s a good or bad thing to be a Song Whisperer. But overall the tropes of the genre have been traversed to satisfying effect, keeping us fully engaged throughout.

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