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Review: Theatresports Grand Championships - River City Rivals at the Brisbane Powerhouse

Reviewed By Panayiota

Challenging, riveting and absolutely hysterical was what every audience member encountered on Sunday 14th May, during the evening’s Theatresports Grand Championships - River City Rivals!

Held at the Brisbane Powerhouse, New Farm, one of three venues hosting this year’s Brisbane Comedy Festival, Improv Queensland (formerly known as Impro Mafia) presented two teams, Northside vs Southside, in a challenge to see who would reign the finest … no … make that the ‘best improv team.’ After all, this was the Grand Championships!

For those who may not know, improvisors are people who are skilled in being able to create theatrical productions which are completely unscripted, therefore, no two shows will ever be the same. Ever!

Theatresports itself, is a unique example of improvised theatre in that it incorporates two teams in competition with each other while using audience suggestions to create these unscripted scenes. Theatresports also involves games which each team used to inspire making for incredible comedic and dramatic moments. Sing About It, Death In A Minute, Emotional Rollercoaster were some games used this evening. Additionally, where normally, there would be a panel of judges determining the end results, this show gave the honour to us, the audience.

Our show opened in a black box with a thrust stage called the Underground Theatre. The set was quite minimal which is usual for improv shows. A few chairs along the back plus a keyboard.

Natalie Bochenski, Master of Ceremonies (Natalie) came on. She was not only welcoming, she was gracious and quite witty as she warmed up the crowd. She had everyone in stitches –– literally eating/laughing right out of the palm of her hand in no time.

She went on to introduce keyboardist, Kris Anderson, our musician for the evening. Musicians are often used in Theatresports. Kris’s extensive range of musical genres was evident as he stimulated his players and added authentic ambience to each scene.

And last but not least, the Northside players Becky Beverley, Tom Dunstan and Wade Robinson, while the Southside included Carla Haynes and Luke Rimmelzwaan.

And so the competition began.

Each team took turns receiving ideas from the audience contributing to their choices on stage. Watching Northside navigate through their 'Emotional Rollercoaster’ was a hoot. Natalie acquired numerous emotions from the audience and later called them out randomly to the players who brought it on magnificently.

Southside chose a game called ‘Sing About It.’ As their scene progressed, this time the audience would shout out ‘Sing About It!,’ and the player would have to literally sing the next lines. It was with absolute treasure to watch as they cruised through every dare.

Lighting, though minimal, was presented by Brisbane Powerhouse crew and offered appropriate mood changes throughout.

As for sound, well that was encouraged by both players and audience members alike. The players on stage shared their shenanigans followed by the audience’s roaring laughter and it was practically non-stop.

It was obvious from the start that all players were incredible performers as they brought their best to their work. Their ability to transform themselves into a wide range of characters happened effortlessly. Kudos to all for their flexibility, how well they worked with each other, and of course, their comedic prowess. All this often while taking on confronting and a few more sensitive suggestions from each other, let alone the audience.

After a number of rounds, the score was tied and it was time for us to judge. Who would be the ultimate winner of the Theatresports Grand Championships?

And the winner is … ‘NORTHSIDE!’ Woo Hoo! Congratulations!

This evening’s presentation was both intriguing and entertaining. To see people create theatre out of nothing is absolutely remarkable. They had me sitting on the edge of my seat and I never stopped laughing. The founder of Theatresports, Keith Johnstone, would have been proud.

Though Theatresports Grand Championships - River City Rivals had one show at the Brisbane Comedy Festival, Improv Qld are a Brisbane-based improv company with more than 18 years expertise and involvement in the community, actively producing shows, as well as, offering all levels and many forms of improv training. Being an audience member during this event was undeniably gold and it is highly recommended to everyone.

After all, it is often said that, ‘Laughter is the best medicine!’

Image Supplied


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