Review by Lauren Donikian
What do you call a show that will never be the same twice, will never be seen again and will include different cast members most times? Improv or improvisation for those that don’t know it.
Improvisation – created spontaneously or without preparation. In this instance scenes are created on the spot using one-word suggestions from the audience, or the hosts of the show. Most are given 2-3 minutes to perform these game style scenes (short form improvisation) in small groups and they can range from performing a scene and changing the emotion throughout the time, creating, and singing a song, or retelling of a classic tale in a different genre. Sometimes TheatreSports is performed as a competition like you would see in ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ with the audience voting for their favourite cast member at the end. But at All-Stars everyone is a winner! Especially the audience who walk out with a sense of wonder trying to figure out how the cast are so funny, so quick witted and so confident.
Hosted by Adam Spencer and including a diverse cast of experienced improvisers, this event was a part of the Sydney Comedy Festival. The set was simple, a runway style stage in the middle, chairs for the cast on either side and some props. The focus was to be on the performers, and they were positioned at the front of the runway whilst performing. Off to the side was Benny Davis, an improvising musical maestro who underscored the scenes as they played out and provided music for the improvised songs. I was surprised to hear that a lot of this cast hadn’t played together before, you wouldn’t know it from watching them. They were all very supportive of each other and would literally throw themselves across the stage to make a carriage that was required for a scene, to sing back up during the songs or to grab props to throw on the cast members during their scenes. There was really nothing holding anyone back and although not everyone got the same amount of stage time, they did get the chance to make an impression.
The feel in the theatre was calm and welcoming, members of the audience were shouting out suggestions and at one point even handed the cast their phone so they could use lines from the messages in their scene. There is something so invigorating about watching adults play make believe. There is a twinkle in their eyes, they are mischievous and will do anything for a laugh. This cast was quick, there was no hesitation in any of their decisions, they just jumped right in and made their intentions known. It makes an audience member feel safe, like you can just sit back, relax and shout out a suggestion or two.
Overall, I was flawed by the cast, their commitment and just their level of play. There was never any blocking or sense of competitiveness between anyone. It was wholehearted fun for the whole family to enjoy.
Image Credit: Stephen Reinhardt