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Theatre Review: Celebrity Theatresports 2017

Celebrity Theatresports

Celebrity Theatresports 2017

Director Julie Dunsmore

Enmore Theatre

Reviewed on August 13

Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP

Theatresports is series of improvisational games and challenges created and developed by director Keith Johnstone in Calgary, Canada, in 1977. Since then, it has become a rapidly-growing, global phenomenon. Whose Line is It Anyway? is the television version of competitions that have sprung up all over the world.

Teams of four perform games that they pull out of a hat, and three judges give ratings out of five. The scoring is determined by such criteria as adhering to the given story line, sticking to the rules of the game and most importantly, entertainment value. The more laughs, the better.

This year the charity event that raised funds for CanTeen, was hosted by Jay Laga’aia and Monique Dystra, and players included Andrew O’Keefe, Benita Collings, Adam Spencer, Pete Berner and a large number of Australian Theatresports stalwarts like Ewan Campbell, Lisa Ricketts and Marko Mustac. The Umbilical Brothers opened the show and Kitty Flanagan warmed up the audience for the second half.

When I had a Theatresports team in the late 1980s, teams had fifteen seconds to discuss the scene between being given the subject and game genre and performing the scene in front of a theatre full of spectators, but lead time has been reduced to just five seconds.

Actors and comedians especially love Theatresports because it puts them under as much pressure as you can have on stage. For two to four minutes, you’re just making it up as you go. If you dry or can’t or can’t think of anything to say in the moment, you have three other performers to pull you out of it. Solo is the only form of impro that is more difficult. El Jaguar (Ramon De Rico) is a Lucha Libre wrestler whose comedy routine warms up the audience before creating an entire, interactive show around some of the spectators.

Seeing impro (“improv” if you’re in North America) live in a theatre is far more entertaining than watching it on television because audience feedback is immediate and nothing is done post-production in the edit suite.

If audience reaction was any indication, Celebrity Theatresports 2017 was a huge success. Apart from the intermission, it seemed like three-and-a-half hours of solid laughter.

For the record, the team that won the night was Nasty Women, which consisted of Andrew O’Keefe, Benita Collings and veteran players Daniel Cordeaux and Michael Gregory.

If you’re curious about learning more about Theatresports or would like to watch it live, go to the Impro Australia web site.

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