Scriptless Uncut

The Forge at The Court Theatre, Christchurch

06/05/2008 - 14/06/2008

Production Details

Court Jesters Give Movies the Flick in Scriptless Uncut 

The Court Jesters are taking audiences to the movies in Scriptless Uncut, a show that mixes the comedic genius of improvised comedy with the magic of movies.

Opening with the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood awards ceremony, four performers romp across genres, styles and the bounds of political correctness as they create anything from art-house, melodrama and independent film to schlock horror, science fiction and big-budget blockbusters, armed with only their wits (and audience suggestions) to guide them. 

Director Patrick Duffy describes Scriptless Uncut as a love letter to an industry that "shoots too many pictures and not enough actors". Duffy is a consummate theatrical entertainer and founding member of The Court Jesters, who most recently devised and directed Pinocchio for The Court Theatre.  He has an impressive list of theatrical achievements behind him, presenting several improvised shows such as Geezers and Rock On in The Forge and touring The Antiques Roadshow in 2007. He is also an avid filmgoer ("at least one movie a week") and was the first choice to direct the show. 

Following the critically-acclaimed Pulp William (a mix of Quentin Tarantino films with William Shakespeare) the Jesters have studied a much wider range of genres and styles as well as cinema history in preparation for Scriptless Uncut. The result will be a mix of classic movies revisited with a fresh take, fun homage to well-established genres and outrageous "outtakes" from popular films. Being uncut, the show can switch from PG to R18 in an instant and Duffy is adamant that "while the show is uncensored, it isn’t gratuitous – the key focus is always what’s best for the story".

Theatre has a unique advantage over screen, which Scriptless Uncut exploits shamelessly – interactivity. The audience control the style or subject of the scenes, and choose one of three "pitches" to be the full-length "feature-film" that plays out for the second half of the show (including the "hit soundtrack song"). 

Whether audiences are film buffs or think ‘Deep Throat’ is a movie about a giraffe, Scriptless Uncut has something to entertain everyone.

Scriptless Uncut  by The Court Jesters
Directed by:              
Patrick Duffy
Featuring:  The Court Jesters
Venue:  The Forge at The Court Theatre 
Performances:  6 May – 14 June 2008 – shows Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at 8pm
$15 from The Court Theatre
Bookings:  Phone 963 0870 or online     

A game worth playing

Review by Lindsay Clark 23rd May 2008

Here tonight and gone with the final applause sign, there seems little point in pondering the relative significance of any one evening’s content with this improvised show. That may be as well, since the content was the weakest aspect of the two hour traffic on the stage on the night I attended.

The framework is promising. An awards ceremony, the Hollywood Oscars no less, with envelopes distributed among the audience and the running gag of competition for the spotlight among the presenters, the ‘stars’. As each category comes along, the opportunity to endow an audience member with a role such as mentor or producer is snapped up and a clip or  trailer or some-such  sequence follows. The second half is devoted to a ‘Best Motion Picture’ re-run, building on audience choice of the three earlier snippets.

If audiences for improvised theatre crave involvement, fast-thinking performers and a liberating sense of unreason, they will spot the opportunities in the Jesters’ current format and not be disappointed. Choosing the right performance to see is part of the lucky dip.

The ridiculous is not necessarily comic though, especially where cliché is involved and I found myself laughing less often than I would have liked, on the night. The structure is there, Patrick Duffy’s direction is there, but the resulting sparks were not enough to ignite the evening for me. Perhaps a small audience has disproportionate influence on such occasions and our contributions were not in themselves high fliers. 

Drawing on their extensive pool of talent, the Jesters set up four able movers and shapers, each capable of injecting an effective offer or winding up a dangerously woolly spiel. On this night, Vanessa Wells, Alice Canton, Brendon Bennetts and Daniel Allan whisked their way from challenge to challenge.

A hero lurked at the corner of Julian Southgate’s nicely glitzed up set. There, under the uncompromising gaze of two towering Oscar figures, sat the music man for the evening. Hamish Oliver is a magician on the keyboard who manages to cue as well as follow mood and narrative switches with accomplished ease.

All in all then, another well planned venture for the Jesters, but one not free of the risk of all improvisation. In exchange for the security of a script and pre-worked material, we settle for impromptu decisions a great team spirit of fun and some mind bending sequences. A game worth playing in effect. 


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