by Fiona Anderson
Gorilla in the midst in this quirky new improv show
The fabulous, talented team from Impro Melbourne Melbourne's longest running improvised theatre company is bringing a new concept to improvised theatre Gorilla TheatreTM. The series kicked off last night at the David Williamson Theatre, 35 St John Street, Prahran.
Gorilla TheatreTM has been devised by Keith Johnstone, creator of TheatresportsTM. The show is directed by Patti Stiles, who in the performance I saw also appeared as one of the performers.
The concept of Gorilla Theatre™ is that the performers take it in turns to direct an improvised scene. They select performers to act in their scene (or ask for volunteers from the troupe). At the end of each scene, the audience is asked for their opinion did this scene work? (in which case the director is awarded banana), or not (the director is punished by being given a 'forfeit' task).
The forfeit tasks add another amusing element to the show, with some examples including 'walk an audience member to their car after the show', 'sing an apology to the audience in a Shakespearean style', and 'get an audience member to leave a message on your voicemail telling you how bad your direction is'.
The performers choose a theme for their scenes from the outset, which they then apply in different ways throughout. For example, Patti had 'should you, would you, could you' a theme which lent itself to tales around temptation and moral standards. Patrick used a Doctor Seuss book and got audience members to randomly select a page to inform his scenes.
In terms of audience assessment of the scenes, there were more bananas than forfeits handed out, though some scenes divided the audience. And who was it that awarded the bananas you guessed it, the gorilla!
The gorilla also becomes an extra performer when he/she so chooses taking on a non speaking role, yet able to convey many sentiments and feelings through gestures. Gorilla very capably became the partner with whom performer Rik had to break up in one scene; in another scene Gorilla became the boss of two astronauts seeing Earth from space for the first time.
The directors have minimal props available to help set their scenes a bed, a couch, chairs and so on, that are moved on and off the stage as needed.
Helping to create the mood throughout is the improvised musical backing provided by the very talented Pan Reed. He did an outstanding job in not only coming up with original music, but also trying to read the minds of the directors not an easy task! He was given a well deserved special banana award from the gorilla at one point.
As always, the beauty of improv is the unexpected, the randomness, and those downright hilarious moments that has the audience roaring and there were plenty of those in the show I saw.
So if you love improv theatre, you'll love this show; and if you've never seen improv before, this is a great introduction. Either way, don't miss out! It's two hours of fun, laughs and silliness that is thoroughly entertaining and will have wide appeal.
Gorilla Theatre™ plays at 7.30pm each Sunday night until 30th July.
Tickets are a snap at $15 if purchased online ($20/$15 if you buy them at the door).