The MILD Wild West!

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

18/04/2011 - 30/04/2011

Production Details

YEE HA! An Interactive Improv Experience for Kids 3-10 years old!

Mount up and ride on into town with The Improvisors these school holidays for an improvised show just for kids with an exciting western adventure at Circa!

This is a cowboy adventure where a towns gunslinger won’t use guns! Instead with imagination and improvisation the town will be saved, songs will be sung and a great hoedown will occur – all with the help of you!

The MILD Wild West is a totally interactive show for kids that uses the audience’s ideas and suggestions to steer the course of the story, maybe even joining in the action live on stage.

We welcome and encourage the audience to come dressed as western folk – cowboys, cowgirls, cactus and horses are all welcome to add to the interactive experience (and fun) – Yee Ha! 

Git along lil doggies, The MILD Wild West is a great introduction to theatre for kids from 3+ and at $10 a ticket – a better deal than the movies! 

Also Circa’s cafe, Wharfside, will be open during the season of the show, offering activities for the kids and a selection of yummy treats for kids and adults – with wonderfully themed "buffalo chips", "best western mini nacho’s" and "southern bell chicken nibbles"!  

“… celebrates the magic of mass imagination”, Theatreview
“Genuine Family Entertainment” – Capital Times

Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Wellington
18 – 30 April
11am & 1pm weekdays, 11am Sat
No show Sundays, Good Friday (22 April)
Bookings: 04 801 7992 or
$10 all ages

After starting in 1990 at Circa Theatre, in 21 years The Improvisors have achieved over 40 shows, covering everything from musicals to multimedia, Shakespeare to Soap Opera and of course Theatresports and were awarded BEST COMEDY at the 2009 Fringe Festival.  

For more information, interviews or images please contact Brianne Kerr Publicity | 021 165 5784 or 04 801 6470 

45 mins

Could do better

Review by John Smythe 18th Apr 2011

I approach The MILD Wild West wondering how hooked into American westerns today’s young people will be and for a fleeting moment fantasise we are destined for our own West Coast in gold rush days. But no…

Kids flock to the opening show wearing cowboy hats, neckerchiefs and waistcoats. Some tote plastic six-shooters, and mindlessly pretend to shoot people throughout the show – what else do you do with a gun? – despite being told up front that the folk of Buzzard Gulch “don’t like guns none”. (Maybe the Sheriff or Mayor could require all weapons to be handed in at the door, like a coat check, to help make the anti-gun point register.)

In a Saloon that “don’t serve liquor”, where cards are played “for chewy lollies”, a new story evolves during each performance from a cast of three actors plus a musician (plucked from a pot of ten players), abetted by Darryn Woods on lights.

This morning Greg Ellis officiates as Mayor to set things up by getting the audience to decide the occupations of the other two. Hence Ian Harcourt’s Amos become the Undertaker, Pete Doile’s Bill is made the Sheriff and all three create spontaneous verses for the first of three rendition of the ‘Mild Wild West’ song, accompanied by Tane Upjohn-Beatson on guitar.  

Next the audience offers the name of the hero (Noah) and something he’s good at (Flipper Ball – a version of Water Polo), then the colour of a cloud on the horizon (pink). It strikes me the ‘good at’ part is the only real story-determining challenge.

The cloud on the horizon heralds the arrival of the villain, whose name may get linked to the colour and will be connected to the hero’s realm of excellence. We get Pink Pete (Harcourt), the Meanest Flipper Ball Player in the Mild Wild West, with his off-sider Winchester (Doile).

At this point, in the opening show, just when the extensive narration from Ellis’s persistent voice should have given way to a rattlin’ good evolving yarn, a fair bit of negating (or blocking as they call it in the improv trade) bogs the show down. Soon Winchester is consigned to the same scrap-heap as Amos the Undertaker and Bill the Sheriff.

This disposable character syndrome runs counter to the basic principle of building on offers, retaining the results and referring back to them. An awful lot of what gets set up is neither utilised in the ‘conflict’ phase nor paid off in the ‘resolution’.

Another narration-dominated sequence follows (told in the past tense, too, which also sucks some energy out of proceedings) whereby Noah travels to Lizard Creek, Indian Knee and Broken Buzzard seeking worthy opponents (I think) only to be laughed at … I find this part unclear and unfocussed, and can’t help wondering how much is pre-determined rather than improvised.

Nevertheless throughout the 45 minutes the young audience leap at any opportunity to get involved, even if it is fairly gratuitous stuff that finally has little bearing on the outcome. (While I understand getting kids to do something every now and then – e.g. “I’m gonna dig, you wanna help me dig?” – helps to stop them getting restless, I also believe what they do should be seen as necessary to the advancement of the story. The hole had nothing to do with anything.)

At last the inevitable ‘high noon’ contest between the Baddie and the Hero is played out – no prizes for guessing who wins – and all that remains (apart from the song finale) is to decide the fate of the Baddie. And again, this morning, when Pink Pete accepts his new role as Life Guard at the Flipper Ball pool, his delight at the prospect of wearing pink Speedos is negated – for no good reason. What should have given this ending a lift turns into a downer.  

The audience leaves happy enough but The Improvisors are capable of much better. Doubtless the new format will settle in but what’s needed most is a fresh allegiance to basic improv principles. That and a better focus on the hero’s quest and the obstacles he has to overcome.
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