27/04/2008 - 11/05/2008
NEW TYROS ARE CHALLENGING THE OLD MAESTROS FOR SUPREMACY
Although Theatresports has been played onstage for more than 20 years in Wellington it is not a comedy format that is getting stale.
Not only are The Improvisors continually throwing new performers into the mix but the format itself is being constantly tweaked from the original format that first wowed audiences in the 1980s.
The core premise which sees teams of improvisers compete against each other in a series of comedy scenes remains. As does the audience input at the beginning of each scene as well as the panel of judges. Over time the audience has also been given the chance to score each scene as well so they have a real stake in deciding who triumphs in each show.
That won’t change in 2008. But, like the Super 14, there are changes in the wind. A referee may come into play in the 2008 season to penalise bad play onstage and help the judges out. And, as a result of the first auditions ever held by The Improvisors in 2007, teams will be enlarged with the idea of an interchange bench stolen straight from rugby league.
"Our auditions threw up heaps of new talent and the interchange bench givex them a real chance to shine alongside the old hands," says old hand and Artistic Director Greg Ellis. He’ll be returning alongside current champion Tim Gordon, 2008 Billy T nominee Steve Wrigley, World Theatresports Champ Derek Flores and one of the stars of "Waterhorse" and "Bridge to Terabitha" Ian Harcourt.
Dates: Sun 27 April, Sun 4 & Sun 11 May, 7.30pm
Venue: Circa 2, 1 Taranaki Street
Tickets: Adult $18 / Conc. $15 / Groups 10+ $13 (service fees may apply)
Booking: Circa 04 801 7992, firstname.lastname@example.org
Show Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
1hr 30 mins
The vibe of a friendly fun fight
Review by Patrick Davies 28th Apr 2008
This marks the first show of the Theatresports™ Season run by the prodigious ‘The Improvisors’. A full house at Circa Two cheered, suggested and guffawed their little hearts out.
The evening starts off with our Commentator Steve Wrigley – an MC by any other name would not have looked so dapper and styley. Wrigley is smooth and charming as the host of the evening, easily winning the audience as he warms us up. Then on comes the Ref, Tim Holloway-Jones, to add the sporty look in his natty striped Ref’s Shirt.
As Commentator, Wrigley moves us swiftly through the night like a live DVD commentary explaining the games. Holloway-Jones as Ref is there to introduce the rounds and to award penalties as he sees fit.
When asked by Steve to explain a penalty (denoted by the throwing on of a yellow towel during the scene), Tim not only tells us why, but gives the naughty players a forfeit. This evening two overly wordy players may only speak in one word sentences in the next scene they play. This is not only exciting for the audience – it’s already hard enough that they are making it all up as they go along – it keeps the players honest and striving towards better material.
We meet the Muso, (Robbie Ellis), who plays throughout the show. He is simply superb – from subtle support music for scenes to whole songs, he’s one of the best I’ve heard in the 20 years I’ve been performing improv.
Brad Zimmerman is our scorekeeper and Ian Harcourt is our technical judge, sometimes called the hanging judge, sporting the best Dali moustache ever. The teams come on and we’re away.
There’s no point in talking the story as its now been and gone. "The Other Side" [Aaron Alexander, Deana Elvins, Tim Gordon, Felix Preval, Gareth Ruck] goes on to beat "The-Reviewer-Never-Got-Time-To-Write-The-Very-Long-Team-Name-Down-No-I’m-Serious-This-Really-Isn’t-Their-Name-Though-Only-Slightly-Shorter" [Pete Doile, Greg Ellis, Sarah Harpur, Kenny King, Mark Scott].
The format includes Team Choice (3 mins) / Head to Head (where one person from each team perform in a scene together, the audience scoring each for their respective team) / Handicap Round (The other team ‘benches’ one player from the opposing team) / Team Choice (4 mins) / Blind Round (each team chooses a piece of paper on which is the game they’ll play). The audience provide one score out of five, the tech judge out of ten, and like any good sport each game is given a level of difficulty out of five which is added to the scene’s score.
Each team has at least one rookie and it’s great to see them progressing through the ranks. There were some excellent and few not-so-excellent scenes but all were solid in their technique with good offers flowing left and right. It’s great to see the teams moving away from ‘the usual’ suggestions for scenes and onto more challenging ones such as ‘A World Issue’ which provides Global Warming as a Ballet.
The vibe of the evening is that of a friendly fun fight for the enjoyment of all – the players and the audience, you cannot help but be entertained. Want extremely live comedy that can – and often does – beat the pants off the scripted stuff? Make sure you don’t miss this fantastic night out.
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