Entering the Scruffy Bunny Theatre, the performers are wandering around and chatting to both us and to each other. Veiled insults and condescending compliments waft through the air in clipped, enunciated tones that scream academia. We were told to expect the lecture to begin shortly and taking my seat, I do feel as if I am a student as Masseykatonic University, the New Zealand iteration of Lovecraft’s infamous Miskatonic University. The performers are all in Victorian-ish gear, with steampunk-ish detailing. Pocket watches feature into the costuming and the cook has pipette covered steampunk goggles on. I did enjoy taking all this in and as we students (the audience) rose to greet the staff (performers) I was ready to have a good time.
The first part of the show is intriguing, the staff introduce themselves to us and explain their position at Masseykatonic. The dean then talks to us ‘students’ and asks for tonight’s prompt, this evening we are tasked to recall a food we thought we would really like but actually hated. One of my fellow students hilariously offers the Japanese food natto, which I agree, sorry not sorry, is gross. Unfortunately, I do not know the name of the performer that played the dean, but he had a gravitas about him that commanded me be invested in what he had to say.
Unfortunately, when we start getting further into the improv, we let go of the lecture motif and go into staff interaction instead. The troupe riffs about how the students did not show up to any lectures due to the slippery cobblestones. I guess we are no longer these students since we are still all present and accounted for. The storyline now evolves into a plot of a mysterious slime, a staff member with a drinking problem, a professor replacing their body parts with steam engines, a plot to overthrow the patriarchy by using the power of a Great Old One, and honestly, I get lost.
You know when you are dreaming and you are just talking to somebody and then turn and know you simply must navigate your pirate ship safely over this grassy knoll lest the vole highwayman rob you and your crew? That’s how this show felt, the improv moving from dimension to dimension, warping my brain with cosmic madness as if Azathoth had come to suck my soul’s aether.
This is very Lovecraftian, and the conclusion comes with few answers, no real connections to the various threads we had been introduced to and I have to cradle my sanity with delicacy as I leave. Walking home, I keep turning my head trying to figure it out. I never really get there though. You could say that this show succeeded in making me well and truly Lovecrafted.
Lovecrafted! Is playing at The Scruffy Bunny Theatre until Wednesday 20th of March. You can find tickets here.