Originally published as: Impro Melbourne’s new show Maestro (The Plus Ones)
I am going to add a new affliction to the medical journals: ‘Face-ache – a condition caused when an individual laughs and smiles for such an extended period of time that their face aches.’ I got face-ache at Sunday night’s ‘Maestro Impro’™, a generous two-hour helping of improvised scenes, skits and masterly impro battles presented by Impro Melbourne.
The theatre space at Dr. Sugar in Prahran provides a grungy-fringy atmosphere which is perfect for a Sunday night escape from journalistic programs on TV. Complete with a bar, it is a standard black-walled, black-roofed theatre space, just as grass-roots impro requires. No frills and comfortable.
The ‘Maestro Impro’™ show mixes a repertoire of games with audience shout-outs and a clap-o-meter voting system. Teams of numbered performers are selected by a ping-pong ball lottery and given scenarios by the directors and the audience. At the end of the proceedings one player receives the winning title of Maestro. Some of my favourite scenes were a musical about Chinese takeaway food, a fantastically clever alphabet game in the style of a Shakespearean play (go players 14 & 15!), and a Eurovision song called ‘Coconuts and Monkeys’. Scenes are expertly accompanied by a keyboard player who provides the background mood-music for the onstage action.
Having participated in amateur impro competitions in the past, I was fully aware of the skill needed to make each game a success. The players did a sterling job. Of course, there were some stand-out rounds alongwith some clunkers, but that’s all part of the deal with improvised theatre. For those who are inspired by the show, Impro Melbourne runs a range of courses in performance skills.
If you are up for some face-ache and you want to laugh off the stress of the predictable working week, get along to the refreshingly unpredictable shows of ‘Maestro Impro’™.
Katie Marsh is now celebrating her one year anniversary in Melbourne after having moved from sunny Perth. Overwhelmed by the choice of things to do in Melbourne, she often wonders why it took so long to move here.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Impro Melbourne.
Photo credit: Impro Melbourne.