Review: Illegal Underground Improv Battle at the Spring Hill Reservoir

Review By Regan Baker


The beauty of the Anywhere Festival is that you simply never know what you’re in for when it comes to the venue of your next performance, and tonight was certainly no exception. I rugged up in layers upon layers of clothes to mask the small cold I was nursing and wandered down to the Spring Hill reservoir, a location that I was fully expecting to be outdoors. It was a pleasant surprise then to discover that the reservoir was actually a dedicated underground event and performance space buried 6m below Albert Park. Returning once more to this former Brisbane water-supply is the crew from ImproMafia with another round of their “Illegal Underground Improv Battle.”


A show that I unfortunately missed at the 2019 festival, I was pumped that another opportunity presented itself for me to see the quick-wit fly from this troupe, which comprises some of Brisbane’s best improvisers. And when I say some of the best, I am really not kidding. Team Captains Luke Rimmelzwaan and Wade Robinson are 20 year veteran’s of the improvised theatre game and are two of the founding members of ImproMafia. While great friends in real life, tonight they stood opposite each other in battle. Rimmelzwaan stood alongside Jaz Robertson and Amy Driscoll on team, ‘Rage Against the Routine,’ while Robinson drew allegiance with the young crew of Joshua Francillon and Daniel Johnston on team, ‘The Lavish Lads.’


The battle kicked off with a common staple of the improvisation game, a roast battle that stemmed from the audience suggested topic of a common kitchen item, the toaster. The insults came hard and fast and each of the six artists were incredibly quick on their feet to improvise snappy rhymes attacking their opponents. While only short and sweet the roast battle was a great little warm up as both teams prepared to ramp things up by performing completely improvised comedy skits with just the music choices of DJ Puff to guide them.


The wit was quick and the scenes chaotic. From stories of froggy romance and kidnapped princesses, to drama teachers chaining up their former student actors in a basement, you really didn’t know what was going to come next, but you did know that it was always going to be laugh out loud funny.


The audience was encouraged to participate in the improvisation by shouting out at the conclusion of any actors line and force them to change it into something completely different. While this was only meant to be for one round of the battle, some audience members didn’t get the memo and just kept shouting out for the rest of the performance that it even caught the actors by surprise, but was so incredibly funny nonetheless.


They were the youngest improvisers on the stage tonight, but the comedic duo of Johnston and Francillon was a pleasure to watch. Their ability to think quickly on their feet and put themselves in hilarious (albeit imaginary) scenarios created an energetic atmosphere of laughter and happiness. Robertson was incredibly agile and bounced well off her teammates and put them into uncomfortable positions or situations, which significantly increased the comedic value. And of course who could forget Amy Driscoll. This is Driscoll’s tenth year of performing in improvised theatre and it is no surprise that she has taken home such prestigious crowns like the QLD’s Theatresports champion as her quick-witted one liners were always punchy and on point.


The laughs just simply did not stop flowing and every second of every performance was a real delight to witness. There are still two more performances of “Illegal Underground Impro Battle” left at the Anywhere Festival so get in quick to secure your tickets as it is a night you won’t soon forget.


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