The Early Early Late Show: Off The Map
03/06/2010 - 19/06/2010
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
Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or www.courttheatre.org.nz
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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