Thursday, September 27, 2012

Opening Night Review Roundup

[Update March 2013: we've had heaps of reviews since this article was written, including those by Inpress and Katherine Phelps.  We also shot a video of audience reactions after one of our recent shows.  Check them out!]

Last night was the opening night of our 1st ever festival season at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, and boy was it fun!  

Don't take my word for it!  Here's a roundup of reviews from local bloggers and guest writers.

Festival Nerd said:

Since this one is obviously going to be entirely new every night, I’m hoping to go back a few times. Definitely recommended if you like improv, or comedy in any form. It’s loads of fun.

Read the complete review here.

Guest writer Benn Dorrington had this to say:

You know it's improvised comedy when Bigfoot, the estranged mother of an orphaned red-head living with an Asian family, launches into a battle royale to save the earth from the dreaded 'flu pinger'.

Yes, the world's next greatest threat, the 'flu pinger', is a guy who drops number two's next to the toilet.

Did I mention both characters were played by the same person, ensuing an epic struggle of eventual self-defeat as Bigfoot somehow loses to a guy with terrible depth-perception.

Or that this show's starting point was 'pies'?

Well, that is the true genius behind the long-form improvisational comedy concept known as the 'Harold'. Two comedy troupes, the Peeping Toms and the NASA Drop-Outs each took on a single idea and exploded it out to beyond belief for 30 minutes a-piece.

The Peeping Toms also shuttled us into the house of a murderous pie-maker forced to capture back-packers and rodents to maintain his family's pie-making legacy. Or the constipated magpie that overdosed on laxatives. And yes, these all came from 'pies'.

Following the Peeping Toms, the NASA Drop-Outs took on 'plastic' for their run and exposed us to the most opportunistic plastic surgeon with a penchant for men's chests. The plot shortly becomes homicidal when some grandparents and grandchildren begin plotting to kill each other after mixing up the recyclables in the garbage. 

A man rips out his new eyes, fresh from plastic surgery, in protest of his pushy girlfriend/wife and pushes her off the same balcony where the aforementioned family met their grizzly deaths.

I could go on but the beauty of this show is that when you check out the Improv Conspiracy during the Melbourne Fringe Festival this year, you're going to see something completely different and new to what I just mentioned.

New stories, new jokes, new characters.

So if you want to see something truly unique that will make you belly-laugh, check out the Improv Conspiracy at the Croft Institute.

And there's this from guest writer Daniel Pavatich:

The Harold is a tourettic bitch mother who don't quit. And boy, did the two teams from The Improv Conspiracy tame her at The Croft Institute last night; a venue as unique and gritty as the performance.

For those of us not entirely new to improvised comedy you should be used to two formats, the long-form narrative and (the sometimes competitive) game-like shorter forms. The Harold stands in the middle, and yet, well apart from these two Melbourne staples. The teams of, The NASA Drop-outs, and The Peeping Toms each took a single word suggestion from the audience and presented a story through a mix of games and scenes inspired by the audience suggestion - and all that came before it. 

If you want to know how you can go from the history of the humble credit card, to a story of a greedy family, their family home lost to a murderous claymation enthusiast. Or how you can go from two birds pooping on people, to a story of a Bigfoot mother killed by an ass-tronaut (both played by the same improviser - of course), there's only one thing for it...

Go see an Improv Conspiracy show!

And finally, this from guest writer Louise Mapleston:

“I can’t believe it wasn’t scripted and completely made up” said the bewildered woman practically jumping out of her seat next to me. Newcomer troupe The Improv Conspiracy delighted audience with a dalliance of completely non-scripted, improvised sketches under the directorship of Adam Kangas at the opening night of the Fringe Festival - in the suitably kooky venue The Croft Institute.  Following the format of “The Harold” the troupe split into two teams; ‘The Peeping Toms’ and ‘The NASA Dropouts’, to create a 30 minute sketch each that explored an audience suggestion.

The Peeping Toms’ suitably themed audience suggestion of “footy pie” really highlighted the colourful imagination of the improvisers and their attempt to (excuse the pun) flesh out the meat of the theme. Whether it was a magpie's attempt to become a “world class shitter”, the caterers association's ingenious idea to increase pie consumption by “adding food poisoning”  or the dynamic one man/woman fight between ‘Bigfoot Mabel’ and ‘side shitting man’ the audience was left hungry for more improv antics .

The NASA Dropout’s suggestion of “plastic” was explored extremely well  and provided a refreshing juxtaposition to The Peeping Toms’ performance as a range of hilarious charactertures were developed  from the get-go who uncovered themes of disposable relationships, blotched cosmetic surgery and insatiable greed. The use of funky thematic music by keys player Sophie Miller really aided aspects of the sketches that could have potentially fallen flat or empty if left to the improvisers and highlighted how important a reflexive relationship between improvisers and suitably themed music actually is. Despite some empty spaces, improviser Charlie Sturgeon's suggestion to explore the history of the credit card was a stroke of genius and quite possibly one of the smartest offers I have ever seen out of an improvised comedy show as it enabled the audience to witness how quickly the improvisers could change characters, themes and still keep track of plot.

The Improv Conspiracy were an absolute joy to experience; I say experience because you do not simply just watch the show, you become involved and invested in the hilarious characters and leave ready and roaring for another night of madness.

I think they liked it!

There are still 11 chances to see us in the Fringe, so what are you waiting for? Book tickets now!

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