As always, the night is run by a quirky yet charismatic MC, keeping each team in check and the audience riled for the wildness that inevitably ensues. Sam Irwin was Wednesday night’s MC; he did a wonderful job of keeping the energy high and the pace of the evening flowing. His partners in crime were Master and Blaster, who adjudicate and delegate the tasks for each round. But the real power holders are the audience members. After every scene, it’s up to you to decide how many points each team deserves.
Last night’s show began with each team pulling scene games from a glass, followed by a series of 2-3 minute lightning rounds until a winner was decided. I was impressed by the creativity of each scene with Icelandic trolls and surprisingly diverse boy bands gracing the stage from moment to moment. However I felt more specific prompts could’ve been used to give the games and scenes more direction. In one section of the lightning rounds, the teams created their own scenes. Although many utilised audience suggestion to help guide their performance, others fell flat without a clear intent or theme for their scene. In future, it would be nice to see more competitive style theatre games between the teams such as the Alphabet Game, or Questions Only where we go beyond scenes to see the calibre of the actors’ improv skills and have more diverse moments in the evening. However, the night’s performances were still extremely entertaining. A favourite moment of mine came when a team acted out the end of a Shakespearean-like tragedy. Every team decided to join in by slowly dying from the sides of the stage, highlighting the spirit of camaraderie between the players on the stage.
If there was anything I took away from last night it’s that an audience loves a musical. You want to score points? Put your words to a tune, and whether you’re singing about lady harpoons or loom weaving magicians, you’ll be lapping up the points (mad props to the pianist, Matt Hutton, for going along with this). So if you want to get along to know what all the fun is about, make sure you check out the website for the New Zealand Improv Fest for all the show lists and get amongst the spirit of the season.
Improdome runs at BATS Theatre until Saturday 21 October, where the winners of the heats compete for victory. Visit the BATS website for ticketing information.