Court Theatre Pub Charity Studio, Christchurch

11/07/2016 - 23/07/2016

Production Details

Frantic family fun  

Christchurch’s favourite Court Jesters return with the popular show that brings all the chaos and fun of the late-night improvised comedy show Scared Scriptless at the family-friendly times of 6pm and 7pm. 

The Boss is back with a new set of instructions… but no one’s instructions are the same! It’s new challenges, new craziness and new laughs as these capable comedians scramble to make things work. 

Songs, scenes and games are all made up on-the-spot by the funniest folks in town. You give them a suggestion and they’ll turn it into comedy! 

Suitable for ages 8+.

Location: Pub Charity Studio 
Duration: 11 Jul 2016 – 23 Jul 2016 
6pm Monday and Thursday
7pm Tuesdays, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 
Price: $15 
All tickets $15  
Book Now!  

Theatre , Improv , Family ,

1 hr 10 mins

Totally engaging and enthralling

Review by Naomi van den Broek 11th Jul 2016

The Early, Early Late Show is improv for the younger set, and by ‘younger set’ I mean eight and up. Performed by experienced and well-known Court Jesters and directed by Artistic Director of The Jesters, Dan Bain, this is Scared Scriptless minus the F-bombs and adult content.

The show is based on a simple and effective premise of an invisible but omnipresent ‘Boss’ who issues his four Jester employees with a challenge: solve the clues in his suitcase of tricks. Each clue becomes the catalyst for a scene, usually involving suggestions from a very excited audience who need little encouragement to start yelling out ideas or volunteering for a chance at fame and stardom on stage, playing a role in a scene.

The players in question are Emma Cusdin, Daniel Pengelly, Tara Swadi and Brendon Bennetts. Having seen each of these actors perform in a variety of grown up settings, I can say hand-on-heart that there is not even the faintest whiff of phoning it in for a junior audience. Each player performs with generosity, good humour (especially when they are the butt of the joke), talent and warmth. And they are rewarded amply for their performance by a full house of effusive young people and their taller companions.

In true Jester fashion, there is also musical accompaniment served up by the multi talented Nicky Marshall on keys. Marshall also has a memorable role in one of the scenes when he is afflicted with one of the maladies of the season, a coughing fit. The troupe’s skilful handling of this makes for one of my highlights of the evening.

My 10-year-old date, Wolfie, loves every moment and is totally engaged and enthralled throughout. As his adult companion, I also have a great night out at the theatre. The pitch of the humour for the age group is perfect, with both the kids and the adults roaring with laughter. The pace of the show is maintained well over the 80-plus minutes with only one lull. This has to do with the geography of the staging of the scene more than anything. At that moment I hear a woman behind me say to her friend “I think I need to be drunk to really enjoy this.” When I check on her a few minutes later, she’s either found her hip flask or her sense of humour, as she’s wiping tears from her eyes.

Wolfie’s favourite scene is ‘The Best Ever School Day’. What appeals to him is the ‘rules’ of the scene whereby the young audience member involved in the scene controls the action by ringing a bell whenever something happens that he doesn’t like. Wolfie likes that the kid gets to make the rules and make the adults do whatever he wants.

This sentiment is echoed in his answer to a question I pose on the way home: “Who was your favourite performer?”
He asks, “Am I allowed to chose anyone, even one of the children?”
When I reply to the affirmative, he says his favourite performer is Dominic, who is the rule maker in ‘The Best Ever School Day’ scene. He also loves the other two young people who participated in scenes. I guess this reiterates one of the universal truths of theatre: we like to see people like us telling our stories. Aside from that, clearly some budding young performers had their school holiday’s made in that moment.

My taste isn’t quite as highbrow as Wolfie’s. I like the scenes where people are trying to talk with mouths stuffed full of marshmallows. Or the good old camp concert gag of the chap having makeup applied by an audience volunteer posing as his arms. Solid. 

Wolfie himself doesn’t go in for audience participation but informs me on the drive home that he certainly never felt scared or pressured that he was going to be made to participate in any way. He also didn’t feel that not yelling out or getting on stage lessened his experience of the show. He loves the improvisatory nature of the performance and says he definitely wants to go again. His justification for repeat-view-value is that firstly it is a really fun and funny show and secondly he would like to see to see what might change on another night.

As we walk out to the car, the car park is full of young people singing the chorus to the final scene of the night, ‘Never Too Much Makeup’. In this musical summary of the show, the adult players make a point of acknowledging each child performer by name. This for me is the icing on a very sweet, and flavoursome cake. 


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