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Review: TheatreSports All Stars at The Enmore Theatre

Review by Anja Bless


“Taree!” An audience member yells enthusiastically, the setting of the new soap opera ‘Round and Round’ where mums are locked in nursing homes and trucks have little care for road rules. It might sound like a strange scenario, but when it comes to TheatreSports, it’s just your average Sunday afternoon. A highlight in the calendar of the annual Sydney Comedy Festival, TheatreSports All Stars, presented by Impro Australia, features some of Sydney’s best comedic talent in an improv extravaganza. 


Confidently hosted by improvisation veterans Ewan Campbell and Jestika Chand, All Stars is four rounds of TheatreSports games with a mix of team members from across the generations of Sydney’s comedy scene. There are your classic situational sketches built from ‘scenes from a hat’ which result in real estate agents giving tours of a haunted house, and your more epic numbers such as a ballet of Scott Morrison visiting Engadine Macca’s. 


The fun of the show comes from the absurdity and occasional panic of the improv, such as when the quick and adept TheatreSports-er Jim Fishwick exclaimed “But I thought we were getting divorced!?”, and the energy and obvious fun that the performers are having. Standouts alongside Fishwick included Ruby Blinkhorn who was ready to jump in on a musical number or to shoot a hostage echidna, David Callan trying to settle everyone’s bar tab, Nat Jensen diving to the floor to keep up with a game of ‘Stand, Sit, Kneel, Lie’, and Kate Wilkins appearing in the middle of the audience to serenade her hinge date across Bunnings. A special mention should also be given to Benny Davis, accompanying the show with exceptional improvisation on the keyboard.  


Though considering the cast are improv professionals, there were a few more fumbles than might have been expected. Situational awareness to keep the scene moving and cohesive is essential in TheatreSports and at times this was lost, leaving well-established build ups to the punchline falling flat. In the ‘epic’ scenes of Round 4 some performers also seemed to have lost their steam, hiding in the wings while others took on the brunt of the scene-making. If this were a TheatreSports competition there would be a few docked points for these losses of energy and momentum. 


These minor lapses aside, the raucous laughter and joy from the audience highlights what a fun time TheatreSports All Stars can be. In a festival of well-rehearsed sets, it’s a pleasure to see comedy in-the-making and witness the quick-thinking of professional comedians in the chaotic and absurd settings that TheatreSports does so well. If you didn’t make it to All Stars this year, be sure to get your improv fix at Impro Australia’s upcoming performances, armed and ready with your most bizarre scene suggestions. 

Image Supplied

 

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