The Early Early Late Show: Off The Map

The Forge at The Court Theatre, Christchurch

03/06/2010 - 19/06/2010

Production Details

Improvised Comedy goes OFF THE MAP
Masters of improvised comedy The Court Jesters are about to take audiences to the heart of New Zealand in THE EARLY EARLY LATE SHOW: OFF THE MAP.
Set in a small New Zealand town (the name of which is provided by the audience), the Jesters create a range of eccentric characters and weave a story from suggestions supplied at the start of the show.
Director Brendon Bennetts describes OFF THE MAP as “both an intimate and an epic story” and a “love letter to the real NZ – or at least a fake NZ that looks like the real NZ.”
Shows by The Court Jesters have become a staple of The Forge’s seasons. THE EARLY EARLY LATE SHOW is a chance for “The Jesters to flex their improv muscles and try something different to SCARED SCRIPTLESS”, says Court Jesters Manager Kirsty Gillespie.
OFF THE MAP was performed at the 2009 NZ improv Festival and hailed as “Both very real and very amusing” by Salient magazine, who went on to praise it as “a very successful show by a really tight troupe.”
A national tour of OFF THE MAP is planned later in the year “to the very towns it draws its inspiration from,” says Gillespie.
THE EARLY EARLY LATE SHOW: OFF THE MAP plays on Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays at 8pm from June 3 until June 19. All tickets are $15.
with The Court Jesters
Directed by: Brendon Bennetts
Cast: Brendon Bennetts, Emma Brittenden, Kathleen Burns, Javier Jarquin and Daniel Pengelly
Venue: The Forge at The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Blvd, The Arts Centre, Christchurch
Performance Dates: Thursday 3 June – Saturday 19 June 2010
Performance Times: 
8pm Thursday, Friday and Saturdays
Tickets: $15
Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20
Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or

1hr 15 mins, no interval (Thurs-Sat only)

Cheerfully engaged on a bumpy ride

Review by Lindsay Clark 05th Jun 2010

Five intrepid improvisers, a new format full of colourful characters (theoretically ‘small town’) and an audience primed for anything – not a bad recipe for stage entertainment and a variation of one which this merry band has perfected over a couple of decades. In that period, improvised theatre has romped through more and more demanding obstacle courses. 

In the latest framework, the challenge from the audience is to create a whole story set in a community not found on any map, but with a deliciously double-barrelled name. We give the team Rambunchus (sic) Mud Pools, as well as a couple of locations within it. We go for a taxidermist’s outfit and a dairy. The improvisers add a cemetery and a butcher’s shop. Our song selection, which will be worked in somehow, is Ten Guitars – the ‘beneath the stars’ bit. 

After that, as always, it is up to the team to sketch in and develop the people, their hearts’ desires, conflicts and solutions before wrapping things up tidily. They have only their wits, each other, a muso (Dan Bain), an open wardrobe/props cupboard and the palpable urging of the audience, to make it work. A beginning a middle and an end – deceptively simple.

On the night in question, our journey is a bit stop and start as scenes open with promising characters but do not always reach the breathless and daring stretches of creativity we all are hoping for. Another time the gel will not be so sticky. Regardless, the audience loves the courage and applauds the bold approach and the scramble to make a problem moment dramatically purposeful, to switch scenes at a high point rather than let them dwindle, to keep some sort of coherence in the overarching plot line. 

The team is an experienced one and finds surprises for us, as well as clever repetition and echoing. On this occasion though, it does not wangle the best out of the audience suggestions, so that although we are cheerfully engaged and time passes very quickly, the off-the-beaten-track experience is, as in real life, a bit of a bumpy adventure.


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