HILARIOUS AS ALWAYS
NZ International Comedy Festival 2012|
THE IMPROVISORS in HISTORY NEVER REPEATS
at Circa Two, Wellington
From 1 May 2012 to 5 May 2012
Reviewed by Maryanne Cathro, 2 May 2012
The Improvisors take on the entire history of humanity; well from 20,000BC to the future, anyway. This is an ambitious feat, given the knowledge required of the players and audience to fill out the details with some semblance of credibility.
One of our audience felt it could include the point at which our ancestral fish creatures left the sea for dry land. This was charitably pointed out to be a somewhat earlier in history, but provided a satisfying running joke nevertheless.
The premise is simple: the black walls of Circa 2 have been chalked with a rather subjective timeline of the period of history, as above. Five points in history are negotiated with the audience including a few extra details, and then each point in history is improvised, from earliest forward.
In the second half, having had ten whole minutes to collaborate off stage, the players attempt to tie these points of history together in a reverse, continuous narrative.
What I find so interesting about this approach is the blend of the spontaneous improv in the first half and the more coherent approach of the second.
The ambition of combining improv with known history meant a certain amount of confusion and some loose ends. Hilarious as always, these first half retellings were entertaining to watch but still incomplete. However, trusting the ability of masters Greg Ellis, Deana Elvins and Ian Harcourt* to steer the show to a satisfying conclusion paid off.
The second half was as clever as it was satisfying, as the six players wove the strands of each set of characters together, moving backwards through time, to show how an ice age, brought about by the permanent crashing of the internet by a woman in New Zealand attempting to upload her holiday snaps from Hamilton in the 1970's, was really caused by the invention of the wheel by the man who built Stone Henge. Really. One could almost believe it was true.
As Greg Ellis reminds us, an improv show, like history, never repeats. This makes a rare opportunity for a reviewer to repeat gag lines without giving the show away. I will chuckle for days over the man who built Stone Henge being an Hengineer. And the demise of the disembodied head of a certain computer billionaire by slow mo iPod to the temple (said iPod being taken from iPod Henge) was classic. But of course, to truly appreciate the joke, you had to be there.
So, be there, some time before May 5th and you too can appreciate that History Never Repeats.
*No programme so unsure who the other three excellent performers were
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|nic gorman||posted 2 May 2012, 01:24 PM|
Sorry about the lack of programme. The other three performers on the night, and for the season are Alice Canton, Daniel Pengelly, and Simon Young.