Tag: improvisation

REVIEW: Quiet Achievers

A quietly improvised comedy

By Myron My

Performing an improvised comedy show can be more terrifying than performing stand up. You have no idea what’s going to happen next from both your fellow cast and the audience. In essence, you have no safety net. You’d think that’s risky enough but the Quiet Achievers have taken it a step further with their Melbourne International Comedy Festival show and taken away a comedian’s most powerful tool; their voice.

Quiet Achievers

With nothing but a musical soundtrack of 500 songs played at random, the Quiet Achievers (Andrew Strano and Charlie Sturgeon) set out to captivate us with a mixed bag of silent impro sketches. As with any impro show, there is always a chance scenes will not hit the mark and with this show there are moments when stories fizzle out with an awkward ending or the story gets convoluted and confusing.

However, the two are charming and affable enough to get the audience on side early on so even when things go haywire, we don’t mind and can still appreciate the performance. There are some brilliant moments from this talented duo though, including the kite flying love story and their story about the little bird that learnt how to stand up for itself.

Strano and Sturgeon are a great pair to watch on stage. Strano’s comedy man to Sturgeon’s straight man is highly complimentary and the two have a great connection on stage. They are constantly aware of each other and what they are doing; they work hard (but seemingly easily) at giving each other a good time and making their partner look good. They happily accept every offer in advancing the story with confidence and a sense of fun.

 

There are a number of improvised comedy shows on during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, but if you’re looking for something a little different, a little riskier but very rewarding, then the Quiet Achievers is the show for you.

 

Venue: Tuxedo Cat, 17-23 Wills St, Melbourne

Season: Until 4 April | Mon – Sat 6pm, Sun 5pm (no Wednesday show)

Tickets: $15 Full | $12 Conc

Bookings: Try Booking

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REVIEW: Impromptunes – WHOSE CHORUS LINE IS IT ANYWAY?

Madcap musicals made to order

By Narelle Wood

Whose Chorus Line is it Anyway? is improvised comedy and musical theatre all rolled into one and a show you could certainly see more than once, because every night is a brand-new performance.

Whose Chorus Line Is It Anyway

The premise of the show is simple; the audience give the cast the title of the musical and what happens from there is anyone’s guess, even the cast members. We were treated to a musical entitled Friday Nights, which had jail breaks, glitter use and a campaign for culottes, which are able to free women from the oppression of skirts and men from the constriction of tight pants. The result of these shenanigans was the creation of a genderless society, mnan, who put the ‘com (that is communication) back in community’. In the realisation that a genderless society would struggle to repopulate the earth, the mnan once again become man and woman. But there are no spoilers in this tale, for who knows what new journey tonight, or any of the shows, will take you on.

The extremely talented cast includes the likes of the company’s director Emmet Nichols, Stuart Packham, Emily Taylor and George Gayler, just to name a few. It was fascinating to watch how they were able to pick up and run with whatever their fellow cast members came up with, no matter how insane or bizarre. This was especially evident during the musical numbers where they seldom missed a beat. Nichols’ portrayal of a Scotsman, with an accent so thick it’s unintelligible to anyone but a fellow Scotsman, was a highlight, and epitomised the phrase ‘it’s funny because it’s true’.

Lights and musical accompaniment helped set, or in this case develop, the scene and musician Rainer Pollard provided the cast with every music theatre genre, from ballads to toe-tappers, to work with: there was even a dance break. Musical highlights included “There’s a Jail Break”, “I’m Changing Me”, and the title number from the show, “It’s Friday Night”.

If you’re comfortable with laugh-out-loud, zany storylines, put together by clever performers, who can and do change the story’s trajectory on a whim, then Whose Chorus Line is it Anyway? is a show well worth seeing.

Venue: The Loft, Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol St, North Melbourne
Season: September 20th to October 4th, 6.45pm, Sundays 5.45pm
Tickets: Full $24| Conc $19
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/impromptunes/

Review: IMPRO MELBOURNE’s Late Night Impro

Get spontaneous for MICF!

By Myron My

For those who are looking for something a little different for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, look no further than this, Impro Melbourne’s Late Night Impro performance with their season of Stuck In The Middle.

Improvised comedy is non-scripted comedy based on spontaneity from the performers. Think Who’s Line Is It Anyway? and Thank God You’re Here and you’ll have a pretty good idea on what this is all about.

The premise of this 55-minute, mind-blowing, pure-craziness-of-a-show involves one performer being ‘stuck’ in the middle of the stage with five or six improvisers coming at them with various games and scenes that they must participate in. There is no break for our lone target as the predators surround him. Only sheer smarts and wits will get him out of this alive.

The beauty of improvisation is that every night you treated to a completely different performance. No two shows are ever the same. The improvisers are always different as are the special guests, who have so far included Rama Nicholas, Cal Wilson, Andrew Mclelland and Eric Amber being “stuck in the middle”.

Highlights from Saturday night’s performance were some white male gangsta-rapping, tackling homosexuality in 1970s Spain and a brief history of how Napoleon won Waterloo.  The audience feedback afterwards was nothing but positive, especially from people who had never seen this sort of comedy performance before.

With only two nights left this is the show you must see if you are looking for something inspiring and completely different to stand-up performances during the 2012 Comedy Festival.

VENUE
Melbourne Town Hall
DATES
13 – 14 April
TIMES
Fri-Sat 11pm
PRICES
Full $20
, Concession $15
BOOKINGS
Ticketmaster: 1300 660 013

REVIEW: Emily Taylor and Scott Brennan in IS THIS YOUR LIFE?

Improvisation + cabaret = a great night of comedy!

By Kate Boston-Smith

As you walk into the ever-gorgeous and oh-so intimate space of The Butterfly Club’s showroom, there is electricity in the air. 

Already on stage, performers Emily Taylor and Scott Brennan with accompanist Gordon Dorin are primed and ready.  Such is the energy and connection between the three that Taylor and Brennan literally cannot stand in stillness. 

Stalking the stage like playful lion cubs ready to pounce, these highly skilled performers are itching to grab their audience, and lovingly get them involved in the piece.  And this they do with generosity, care and feather-in-the-ear tickling play. 

Obviously seasoned improv artists (Taylor and Brennan from Spontaneous Broadway, Dorin from Impro Melbourne), these three have an unspoken understanding and pitch-perfect musical intuition together.  

Their joint performances of spontaneous song and invented narrative come from the seamless interweaving of offers from audience conversations generated in the first ten minutes of the show. It is beautiful to observe how they listen to each other and us, and to see how they then develop the story on the spot. 

Their musicality is matched by their imagination and the audience travels with them as they paint very detailed imagery with their stories and songs.  Brennan, a crackerjack to watch, oozes character and wit. 

Dorin on piano is heavenly to listen to, and is so incredibly in synch with the other two performers that you would think each song has been rehearsed several times over.  The only time his eyes were not on the performers was when he dropped his head to laugh at the spontaneous hilarities happening on stage: always a delight to see!

Last, but by no means least, Emily Taylor performs with a constant twinkle in her eye.  With cool dexterity she switches between characters and unabashedly creates and explores the most absurd scenarios. 

In this instance, her adoption of a human-sized bunny moving through society is both ridiculous and incredible.  She is a fearless performer, and deserves the rewards the audience throw to her. 

Is This Your Life? is a great piece for those who love to see a little bit of themselves on stage.  These three performers are brilliant at their craft, and clearly enjoy what they do and achieve, making this show is a joy to watch

Date: Thurs 25 to Sun 28 August


Time: Thur – Sat at 9pm, Sun at 8pm 


Tickets: $22/$18

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com


Duration: 60 min approx

REVIEW: Emily Taylor in HELLO YOU

This kamikaze cabaret is ambiguous, off-beat and excessively endearing

By Bradley Storer

Emily Taylor made her entrance wearing only high heels, a long coat and a confident smile. She wordlessly appraised each individual in the front row before presenting one particular lady with a bouquet of flowers. This opening managed to encapsulate the spirit of the entire show: intimate and mysterious as well as friendly and touching.

This ‘kamikaze cabaret’ mixes stories of childhood, family and heartbreak with dreamscapes, songs and improvised interactions with audience members to create a piece that bounces from topic to topic with child-like energy and enthusiasm.

The audience are treated like the inhabitants of Emily’s constantly shifting dream-world, changing from strangers to childhood friends without warning. They are kept constantly engaged through quirky games or the sentimental mementos Emily occasionally passes around for show-and-tell.

The rapid shifts in time and place can be disorienting, making it difficult at times to keep up with the flow of the story. However since the aim of the show appears to be to depict the fluctuating terrains of memory and dream, this ambiguity actually makes sense in context. The effective lighting design helps to minimize the confusion and creates a unique space for each territory encountered.

Emily Taylor is utterly charming, her bright open face instantly endearing her to the audience. Her enormous energy and commitment, combined with some ingenious and creative staging, turn what could have been clichéd material into something unique and hilarious (my particular favourite was the subtly filthy trampoline gag). Emily skilfully handles improvisation with the audience, constructing stories about the lives of the audience members which she then blends seamlessly into her final monologue. Her accompanist Quinn Stacpoole provides responsive and illustrative backdrops against which Emily’s tales and dreams play out.

The sombre finale of the show gathers up the fragments of all that has come before into a series of interconnecting monologues, weaving together haunting images of death, aging and loneliness. All these subjects appear, albeit hidden, in the stories throughout the show and provide a surprisingly appropriate conclusion to this seemingly light-hearted piece.

The final performance of Hello You is at 6:45 on Thursday 21st July, at the Auspicious Arts Incubator, 228 Bank St, South Melbourne as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

Ticket prices: $33 Full/ $30 Concession

Tickets can be booked online at MelbourneCabaret.com