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Theatresports / Suren Jayemanne

Sydney Comedy Festival

Enmore Theatre

Reviewed on March 5

Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP

Sydney Theatre Reviews

What would the Comedy Festival be without Theatresports, originally the 1977 brainchild of Canadian theatre director Keith Johnstone? Theatresports is an evening of improvisational games played by teams.

If you’re reading this column, you’re probably familiar with Theatresports and know how it rolls. Normally the teams, in turn, are given a game format and a subject that is volunteered by members of the audience. For example, “Song” might be the nominated game and the subject might be “the gnome with red shoes”. The teams then have 15 seconds to discuss, then perform a made-up song to an original tune.

The latest incarnation, however, was bewildering. The teams could nominate their own games and even the subject, which makes for less spontaneity. One team nominated the game, “Shakespeare”, in which the scene’s dialogue is supposed to be played in the style of The Bard’s prose and verse. As it turned out, it was delivered with French accents and without Shakespearean affectation, so the game format is irrelevant and the players can randomly perform whatever they like.

Sydney Comedy Festival

In addition, the middle-aged MC seemed like he was on work experience and hadn’t done any research into the format. He was entirely unfamiliar the concept and had to be guided by the timekeeper who eventually took over before I left half way through.

The second show on the night was Suren Jayemanne, an Australian-born Sri Lankan/Malaysian accountant-turned-comedian. In a back alley room called “The Laneway”, which was the size of a lounge room, he delivered some observational comedy about racism and class, and what it’s like to be “a brown man” in Australia. Jayemanne went for low status and vulnerable and was relatively kind to people in the front row. His self-effacing humour was appealing to the audience and I found myself smiling in appreciation of his perceptions rather than laughing out loud.

Looking forward to the rest of the Sydney Comedy Festival.


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