BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

07/05/2013 - 11/05/2013

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


“His lips caress mine. It’s only a brush, but the warmth overheats every part of me. Leaning back, my elbow bumps into the power button on the dryer and the old appliance starts moving. Spinning. Spinning like my head. Like my heart.”

“What was she thinking? He was her mechanic, not a piece of meat. Although, if he were a piece of meat, he’d be a big, juicy porterhouse, the naughtier side of her thought.”

Be seduced by the thrills of everyone’s mum’s favourite guilty pleasure; Wellington Improv Troupe is back with a racy new show – Thrills & Swoon: Improvised Romance, coming to BATS Theatre from 7-11 May as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival. Inspired by the romance novels you pretend not to read, stories and scenes will be created on the spot, as fresh as an innocent flower waiting to be plucked.

WIT Creative Director, Christine Brooks, describes the concept as part parody, part homage to one of the biggest literary industries in the world (worth over a billion dollars every year!) born out of a one-off improv jam last year during the Improv Lounge.

“I had some novels at home – I mean, I was looking after them for a friend, and I was drawn to the melodrama and passion radiating from the couple on the cover. Melodrama and passion are two of an improvisor’s best ingredients for hilarious results, so it was a small leap to bring it all to the stage for a play. We took inspiration from their desperation and so the seeds for Thrills & Swoon were planted.”

Come May, it’ll all blossom on stage: exotic locations, dashing heroes, lonely heroines and more than a little sexual in-your-end-oh! From the creators of improvised soap The Young and the Witless, WIT’s top improvisors bring you a show rich in hysterical romance, rugged passion and happy endings (not that kind).

“Hilarious.” – Dominion Post

“Pure bliss on stage together.” – Theatreview

Wellington Improvisation Troupe is Wellington’s not-for-profit, community-based improvisational theatre group. WIT performs and teaches the skills of improvisational theatre at community venues around the Wellington region.

Opening quotes from:

Lauren Hammond – He Loves Me…He Loves You Not…

Amanda Bretz – Finding Justus and Love in Greener Pastures

Dates: 7 – 11 May, 6.30pm
Venue: BATS Theatre
Tickets: Adults $18, Conc. $16
Bookings: BATS Theatre – 04) 802 4175 or visit 

A happy blend of celebration and satire

Review by John Smythe 08th May 2013

The premise here is that a romance writer – Chandice Le Roux this night, played by Christine Brooks – wants to share her process with us and get our help. She has also roamed the foyer with her notebook getting ideas – and we take it on trust that she has not shared these with the team backstage in advance of the show going up.

The Wellington Improvisation Troupe (WIT) team who appear in her fertile imagination (i.e. on stage) – as muso Sam Smith tickles his keyboard stage right – are: Chris House, Barry Miskimmin, Jennifer O’Sullivan, Nicola Pauling, Amy Williamson and Steven Youngblood.  

Brooks has warmed us up by asking us to call out the name of our first pet and the first street we grew up in, thus arriving at someone called Smudge Great North Road, but this goes nowhere. Just a warm up, then.

Our choice for “an exotic, far away place” is Palmerston North; for a lucrative profession is Dentist; for the romantic hero’s key quality is Rugged. Hence the major story that evolves through the night is The Rugged Dentist From Palmerston North.

An early gem arises from Chandice Le Roux mangling the pronunciation of ingénue, as “engenue”, as Jennifer O’Sullivan steps up for the ‘new girl in town’ role – Cynthia – so quick as a flash Cynthia declares she’s enrolled at Massey to do her Engenuering degree.

The Rugged Dentist, Brad (Barry Miskimmin), turns out to be a final year student; their attraction is instant but he is already embroiled with Monica (Nicola Pauling) who is jealous and controlling, while Victoria (Amy Williamson), becomes Cynthis’a ally.

Meanwhile the Vice Chancellor, Steve (Steven Youngblood) is very solicitous of his students, especially the newcomers … Youngblood also plays the Sleaze from Christchurch that Cynthia has fled from …

It plays out splendidly over a number of ‘chapters’ until, as the resolution phase approaches, we get to choose who is the real and who is the false romantic lead between Brad and Steve.

I especially like it when the characters talk back to their author, given real writers say this happens all the time. It spreads the ‘control around a bit and requires more improv from the author.

Dropped in between these chapters – for the compulsively browsing and channel-hopping generation – are a number of quick scenarios pitched at the team by Chandice from her notebook of audience offers.

Thus we get a ‘medical romance’ involving brain surgery; a ‘paranormal’ romance involving a phoenix; a ‘bad news boss’ involving zoology; and a vegie market scenario in which the lover is thrown things he must use as metaphors to express his love for Nicola Pauling’s instant character. And part way through, Chris House realises he’s been using similies: an important distinction.

An audience member also gets to recreate the cover of one of the ‘Thrills & Swoon’ titles adorning the bookshelf, using the actors as models. They pack a lot in to the hour and it’s clear the Wellington Improvisation Troupe has studied the genre well. The result is a happy blend of celebration and satire.  Recommended


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