Improv Theatre Sydney (ITS) celebrated their 4th year by hosting a four day festival of acts at the Giant Dwarf Theatre. Our visit to the Friday 7pm show was a great showcase of the talent and creativity that has been coming out of ITS since its inception.
New shows every session of every night, dialogue and song is whipped up on the spot. That was the premise, that was the promise! The short form improv shows drew from audience suggestions, the first including “Toys R Us” and a place you would never expect a dog to be. The parameters are fairly loose, allowing for shows in the style of played up WWF wresting, life coaching seminars with a hint of Cirque du Soleil, films and television series.
Unplanned Melodies made waves in the recent Sydney Fringe Festival and their spontaneous quick thinking of being able to deliver polished lyrics instantaneously to melodies themed to an audience dictated story is riveting to watch. In their story, a doll, hug bear and G.I. Joe tell a reminiscent story of ‘Wizard of Oz’ as they long to be sold and leave the store to a loving home. Comedic songs are sung on their journey to the top shelf where they have seen many of their friends get their happy ending.
It’s the unknown that enhances the experience of this kind of theatre as the audience took in every word, every note, knowing that it was completely unplanned. The prosaic stage with the full accent of basic black requires no bells and whistles to maintain the eagerness of onlookers, as the mere size of the troupe is what is spellbinding. Unravelling the script as it unfolds, bouncing off each other taking cues from each other with each line, it’s the mere chemistry of the group that keeps us watching and their ability to deliver perfect one-liners and jokes in a comedic flavour seamlessly.
This Show Has My Dog in It with Laura Hart and Juno Woe was a nice extension to the introduction. Co-star Juno the dog’s random procession and expressions on stage being the key to John McGee’s narration as the voice of Juno. Think, Benji except with Bruce Willis’ ‘Look Who’s Talking ‘ voiceover. Cute moments, quick thinking by Hart and on point punch lines from McGee ensured continual bursts of laughs from the audience.
The script is unbeknownst to the actors as it is to the audience and is captivating to watch. The payoff for audiences in investing in improvisation performances like this one is that it is a standalone run created just for them.