WHO’S RUNNING THE SHOW ANYWAY?
The Scruffy Bunny Improv Theatre, 100 Courtenay Place, Wellington
06/03/2018 - 10/03/2018
NZ Fringe Festival 2018 [reviewing supported by WCC]
Is our destiny governed by fate, or do we really have freedom of choice? Decide for yourself as stories are created and unfold before your eyes! A team of office “Fate” workers desperately try to cajole flawed humans with their messy, complicated lives towards their ultimate “master plan”.
This improvised piece uses audience ideas to create a number of stories of the struggles and choices facing everyday people. On one side of the stage we see a number of stories unfolding in the ‘real world”. On the other side of the stage, we see what looks like an ordinary office, staffed by an extraordinary team of workers known as ‘Fates’. Unbeknownst to the humans, these ‘Fates’ have the power to subtly influence the lives of the humans. They are desperately trying to keep the human race on track with the ‘master plan’, handed down from their mysterious superiors. Will they manage to stick to the plan? Or will the humans stuff it all up as per blimmin’ usual? You can decide for yourself.
Best on Tap is a Wellington based improvisation troupe which creates shows inspired by the triumphs, trials and tribulations of our everyday lives, with a hint of magic thrown in. Like our lives, his improvised show will be sometimes hilarious, sometimes thoughtful and occasionally whimsical.
The Scruffy Bunny Improv Theatre, 100 Courtney Place, Te Aro, Wellington
Tuesday 6 – 10 March 2018
Concession/Student $12 | Fringe Addict $10 | Full $15 | Group 6+ $12
Theatre , Improv ,
Review by John Smythe 07th Mar 2018
Best on Tap lives up to its name with this latest offering, at the Scruffy Bunny Improv Theatre.
Audience members are given a slip of paper welcoming them to the show. “Is our destiny governed by fate, or do we really have freedom of choice?” it asks. “Tonight you get to decide for yourself.” We are asked to write down “an event that has changed the course of your life.”
The completed ‘ask fors’ are collected in a box and delivered to Wiremu Tuhiwai and Geoff Simmons, waiting on stage, as cello maestro Sebastian Morgan-Lynch gets us in the mood with his rendition of, you’ve guessed it: ‘In the Mood’.
Geoff notes this is Census Day and it emerges he and Wiremu are in role as higher extra-terrestrial beings, viewing and reviewing human behaviour in relation to the ‘ask fors’ they have received. Something like the Greek gods of old, seeing mortals as playthings who might have a thing or two to learn, the publicity material calls them Fates. Each scenario is given time to establish, sometimes with a bit of fiddling by the Fates, then paused with a “Let’s come back to that one” or similar.
“Quitting work to go on a two year cycling trip” is decreed to happen in a desert, i.e. Central Otago, and Amy Davison and Mary Little – as Susan and Tiffany, or vice versa – step up to play out the experience, adding winery visits into the mix.
“Someone taking magic mushrooms” brings Kate Wilson and Barry Miskimmin, as Diego, to the stage. There are two mushrooms to choose from, offering either joy or despair.
“Picked up hitch-hikers for the first time” finds Mary Little at the wheel of the car coping with Kate Wilson’s whining child then picking up Amy Davison and Barry Miskimmin, hitching to Palmerston North.
“Joined a cult” brings everyone, including Matt Hutton, into a ‘gratitude circle’ were the quest for free-spirited unity and harmony is not so easily won.
“Emigrating to New Zealand at 18 under protest” transforms Amy Davison into a pissed-off new arrival who meets up with Matt Hutton’s ebullient but completely unintelligible Scotsman. A leap to 18 months later finds Amy much better able to understand Matt while his invariably delighted utterances remain gibberish to us.
By now we have something invested in all five scenarios and want to know more, such is the skill of these players. While the hitch-hiking story ends up in chocolate factory heaven, the magic mushroom choice, despite interventions that reveal Kate works in a Magical Mystery Tour call centre and couldn’t lie to save herself, ends with her lying lifeless. Such is life.
A fresh ‘ask for’, “Moving house”, has Barry stepping up as a “country bumpkin” who becomes a “lamb to the slaughter” at the mercy of “city slicker” kids in a new playground. But when the ‘gods’ fast-forward 30 years to his happy return to the school as celebrity guest speaker required to use cow pats as a metaphor, he triumphs.
The Scotsman and reluctant immigrant get a happy ending too – and we end with the cycling women on the wineries tour, challenged to continue their adventure without any plans. When Tiffany impulsively kisses Susan, however, a quietly delighted Susan admits, “I kinda planned this.”
Thus the over-arching question of whether we have free will or are living inevitable lives is completed with a perfectly pitched paradox.
Speaking of the inevitable, recently aspiring politician Geoff Simmons delights us by delivering a couple of potent political zingers during the show. And Sebastian Morgan-Lynch’s cello adds value throughout.
Who’s Running the Show Anyway? runs until Saturday (at 8pm) and can be relied on, I predict – without, I hope, tempting Fate – to deliver more exemplary improv.
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