Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

16/05/2017 - 20/05/2017

NZ International Comedy Festival 2017

Production Details

The Improv Bandits have been delighting audiences around the world for 20 years; in 2017 they are bringing a brand new show to Auckland audiences that’s high on laughs and fun. They are NZ’s most successful improvised comedy act, having won world championships and performed with the stars of TV’s Whose Line Is It Anyway? 

“The Improv Bandits were absolutely brilliant, and one of the can’t-miss performers this year”– 

“the gladiators of quick response”– Austin American-Statesman
Facebook – Improv Bandits

Herald Theatre 
Tue 16 May – Sat 20 May 2107

Full Price: $26
Concession: $22
Group 5+: $22
Cheap Wednesday: $22
*service fee may apply
Wheelchair accessible

Theatre , Improv ,

Skilled and generous performers

Review by Leigh Sykes 17th May 2017

The Improv Bandits hit the stage with a series of freeze frames, immediately drawing laughs from the audience. The performers briefly and cheerfully introduce themselves, before telling us that the format of the show is one they have not used before. A dinner party scene will be created with a little audience input, and then other scenes will break out from there.

In practice, this means that once an audience suggestion has provided a topic of conversation for the dinner party, we are free to sit back, relax and enjoy some free-wheeling improvisation.

It is immediately obvious this close-knit group is able to support and enhance the work of each individual. During the initial dinner party scene, they quickly establish credible characters and take the time to allow the scene to develop before breaking out into the first set of unconnected scenes.

Each new scene starts with a strong offer from one of the group and develops along funny and often unexpected lines. This means that we get a huge variety of scenes throughout the evening. Some involve all of the performers, some involve only a few of them. There are musical interludes and scenes that riff on movie or theatre genres. I enjoy a nod to The Matrix during one scene and a Western scenario (that becomes quite surreal by the end) in another.

My favourite scene is the one that involves no understandable dialogue at all, but which instead gives us an extremely funny physical scenario, some of which takes place among the audience. The scene that is ‘signed’ (in a totally incorrect but very funny version of sign-language) is also a highlight. In all of the scenes the effective characterisation helps us to accept the situations and ‘go-with-the-flow’.

At points that are wordlessly agreed among the performers, we are taken back to the dinner party, which moves on and continues to develop its original story. Twists and turns keep on coming through these scenes, in the same way as they do in the scenes that branch off, making sure we stay engaged all the way through the show.

All the performers are assured and confident enough to allow scenes to build and develop slowly. They take the time to give us something credible and real in each situation, so that they have a solid foundation from which to take us on unexpected and imaginative journeys. They commit to each scene and each character, which helps us to engage with and enjoy the sometimes absurd and surreal outcomes.

It is clear that these are skilled and generous performers who enjoy working with each other, just as we enjoy watching them. The dinner party scene cleverly draws a number of threads together by the end, leaving us impressed with the ability of the group to enjoy exploring tangents while still keeping hold of their original characters and ideas.

Each performance of this show is likely to be very different, but I suspect each performance will be just as entertaining as this one.  


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council