Philip Carter Family Auditorium, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, Christchurch

10/07/2017 - 22/07/2017

Production Details

Art of Family Comedy in The Early Early Late Show

Arty or farty? Find your favourite when The Court Jesters’ bring The Early Early Late Show to Kidsfest these school holidays.  

The popular family-friendly improvised comedy show has been described by reviewers as “all the fun of Scared Scriptless without the rude bits”.

In The Early Early Late Show, four improvisers and a musician undertake a series of challenges put to them by “The Boss”. The performers must create songs, scenes and games on-the-spot with only audience suggestions to help them.

Past seasons have rapidly sold-out, prompting a move to the exciting new venue of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu. “We’re looking forward to seeing how the art gallery will inspire the flavour and content,” says director Dan Bain. “I’m particularly excited about Wednesday nights when the gallery is open late – people can come along, see the show and go through the exhibitions afterwards.”

Bain believes that improvisation is the key to the show’s wide appeal. “Improv as an art form appeals to young people because it’s chaotic and naughty, even when it’s clean. The best thing about this show is that it caters to an audience that’s difficult to please – it’s hard to take an eight-year-old and thirteen-year-old to the same show, but you can with The Early Early Late Show.”

The Early Early Late Show has a limited run of ten shows between July 10-22 and is recommended for ages 8+. Bookings can be made through The Court Theatre’s website; limited door sales may be available at the Art Gallery on the night.

Philip Carter Family Auditorium at the
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
10 – 13 July & 17 – 22 July 2017
6:30pm 10, 11, 12, 13 July
6:30pm 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 July
Tickets: $15
Bookings: phone 03 963 0870 or visit

Andrew Todd
Brendon Bennetts
Millie Hanford
Tara Swadi 

Musician: Nicky Marshall

Theatre , Improv , Family ,

1 hr

Chaos cheerfully handled

Review by Lindsay Clark 14th Jul 2017

The return of The Court Jesters in a new venue, and with fresh challenges from the scary voice of the Boss, is well tuned to the appreciative Kidsfest audience, all but filling a space more regularly used for serious and adult events. It could be said that the accustomed formula (that is, scenes based on the playful improv model, with plenty of offers from the audience and energetic performers) should work wherever sight and sound permit, but that should not detract from the enterprise and skill bouncing off the walls at the new place. 

The walls are indeed the starting place for teasing picture puzzle directions set by the Boss. As we’d expect in a gallery, ten pictures lead to a series of robust interpretations. One, depicting wrapping paper, indicates a rap contest among the four improvisers. A two headed monster image suggests two actors sharing a T shirt for a word at a time story. A trio of figures leads to the standing, sitting, lying game where no two actors can be in the same position at any one time, and so on.

The nimble four doing the work show all the quick wits and responsiveness needed to keep some wildly chaotic situations alive in dramatic terms. The audience for its part relishes the opportunity to join in the challenge by offering places or occupations to get creative solutions flowing and volunteers are regularly part of the fun. 

Setting situations, cueing action and generally melding all together, muso Nicky Marshall on keyboard is an important part of a cohesive team. Brendon Bennetts, Andrew Todd, Millie Hanford and Tara Swadi are not only individually effective as they wrestle nigh impossible material into some sort of shape, but are vigilant when intervention is needed to wind up or salvage a scene, where delay would be perilous. Thus the evening bounces right along and it is a happy audience that claps to the rhythm of the song wrapping up the doings with a ‘what we learned tonight’ theme. 

I have on one side a teenager and on the other a ten year-old. One giggles and claps more loudly than the other but both agree that a fun evening was on offer. From a troll in a cave to a Viking warrior, a failed train conductor, anxious animal vet or destitute gentry in a ‘serious’ scene, having to accommodate a marshmallow in the mouth each time they raise a laugh, the team handles our offers and the resulting chaos in the best possible way, by cheerfully finding what happens next and getting on with it. 


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