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

01/11/2014 - 01/11/2014

NZ Improv Festival 2014

Production Details

Join Captain Stella Forstar and the intrepid crew of Space Patrol 5 on a voyage of exploration and discovery to the furthest reaches of the galaxy… and beyond! Christchurch’s Court Jesters encounter alien civilisations and mysterious scientific phenomena, while dealing with the interpersonal tensions that naturally crop up between workmates who also live together. Space battles! Alien treachery! Poor decisions! Short skirts! Science! Engineering! SPACE PATROL 5!

(Please come early: we need help building the spaceship.) 

Based at the Court Theatre in Christchurch, The Court Jesters have been running Scared Scriptless, Australasia’s longest-running comedy show, for over 20 years. Alumni include Cal Wilson, Court Theatre Artistic Director Ross Gumbley, Javier Jarquin, and the late Kevin Smith, and members of The Court Jesters have gone on to found or co-found Snort (Auckland), Playshop (Wellington), and Body In Space (Nelson). A company of around 20 Jesters perform two late-night improv shows a week (Friday night short-form comedy and Saturday night themed long-form) and provide corporate entertainment, improv training, and other acting services throughout New Zealand.

Sat 01 Nov 6:30pm

Part of the New Zealand Improv Festival
28 October – 1 November at BATS (Out of Site)
3 show passes available! Contact the Box Office for more information – 


The strongest genre-piece of the festival

Review by Alex Wilson 02nd Nov 2014

In the guise of a computer named Computer, our guide Matt Powell walks on stage carrying a variety of space junk with him. It is revealed these are in fact starships created by industrious audience members before the show. Powell asks us to clap for the ship we would like to be our Starship Enterprise. With the appropriate Thunderbird-esque bottle-taped-to-egg-tray-designed ship selected and christened the Black Eagle by the crowd, the show begins in one of the more stylish opening sequences seen at the festival.

The protean Jeff Clark puppeteers the Black Eagle, as Kris Finnerty on keys and Darryn Woods on lights work in tandem to recreate deepest, darkest space. Over the cascading chords and flickering lights, the opening log of Captain Stella Forstar (Vanessa Wells) builds to a crescendo, sending the Black Eagle into hyperdrive; Clarke running with the ship through the crowd with child-like enthusiasm. With a fade to black we are beamed aboard the craft. All very slick.  

In a never-to-be-repeated storyline, the crew of Space Patrol 5, made up of the driven Forstar, an unfeeling Spock-like android called Lawrence-5 (Dan Allan), and the short-fused Irish engineer O’Tube (Brendon Bennetts), find themselves lost in space due to damage to their undercarriage. They beam down to the planet of Sprite Zero, filled with vegetarian sprites from O’Tube’s old country.

Meanwhile the ship has been ambushed by the Kyton Empire, led by Kyton 7 (Clark) who wants avenge his brother Kyton 6 who was killed by the Space Patrol 5 in a previous mission. Forstar finally saves the day through ingeniously merging Sprite Zero vegetation with the ship’s engines and defeating the Kyton 7 in hand-to-hand combat. 

The amazing length of this narrative, constructed by the Court Jesters in a little under 45 minutes, is only rivalled by its detail. The cast know their subject matter well and it must be stressed this show is definitely more of the camp and colourful Star Trek type than the more philosophical and broody Next Generation show. Any opportunity for heightened characters, redundant sound effects or bizarre action sequences is taken with zeal and enthusiasm.

Such care and love has been taken with this show, it is a delight to watch. The cast are attentive: you can see them itching to jump on each other’s offers and hanging when needed. For example, when Jeff Clark recreates a space battle between the Black Eagle and the Kyton’s Helibird, the cast stagger from side to side as their hull is further breached.

Apart from occasional corpsing, each offer is handled with utmost sincerity and Vanessa Wells deserves recognition for being the show’s anchor as the giving, rational straight-woman in a star field of space-age farce. Her gravitas allows her cast-mates to expertly clown around, led by Clark’s cranky Kyton-7 who, halfway through his maniacal plan, turns on (in what turns out to be a highly reincorporated offer) the ship’s techno button, leading to a dance party of no particular consequence.

Matt Powell and his ensemble should be congratulated for creating an extremely enjoyable and stylised show. In his formatting Powell has allowed for his cast to have a variety of tools to experiment with the conventions of improv storytelling while maintaining the genre’s camp roots. The format allows for the use of puppets, an oscillating tube twirled by Matt Powell which doubles as the sound of the transporter, video screens and pulling up a red-shirted audience member to become a doomed part of the security staff in the most enthusiastic and entertaining examples of audience participation I have seen in a very long time.

These simple conventions keep the actors on their toes and the audience rapturously entertained. In doing so the Jesters have created the strongest genre-piece of the festival.


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