Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Bartleby. Written by Julian Hobba after Herman Melville. Directed by Julian Hobba. The Street Theatre Hive Programme. The Street and Aspen Island Theatre Company. July 26 - August 3 2014

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Max Cullen as the Old Lawyer

A prophetic warning pervades Julian Hobba’s adaptation of Herman Melville’s 19th. century fable of a solitary scrivener, subsumed by social isolation and obsession. This is not to say that Aspen Island Theatre Company’s production of a twenty-first century take on Melville’s Bartleby is without ironic humour, stinging in its sharply pointed condemnation of a society obsessed with bureaucracy’s driving expectations. Hobba’s Bartleby introduces his audience to the three aspects of the workplace psyche. Max Cullen is the Old Lawyer, weatherworn by a long career in the law, yet clinging to the noble and humanitarian ideals of a bygone era. As his junior partner, Dene Kermond is a volcanic explosion of ambition and stress, driven by the obsessive lust for success. Ben Crowley’s Bartleby is a mystery, a self-driven workhorse whose cogs grind to their inevitable standstill. We gaze in apprehension at Bartleby’s descent, or is it ascent, into defiant resistance. His monotone “I would prefer not” intones the dogged protest of the silent will of the underdog. Melville’s release for his Bartleby is death. In Hobba’s work, Bartleby is last seen fasting in a hospital. We remain in the dark as to the true nature of his condition. Does he suffer a nervous breakdown? Does he have Aspergers or is his doodling the result of autism. We do not know, but what Melville, Hobba and Crowley all reveal is a man who has slipped through the safety net of a society more concerned with human achievement than the human condition. In this respect, Hobba’s production is both disturbing and thought –provoking.

Hobba reinforces Melville’s dark warning to the obsessed with reference to the author’s masterpiece. The Old Lawyer grips his copy of Moby Dick, his abiding comfort in Life’s stormy tempest. In his sleep he finds himself cast upon the swirling sea as Captain Ahab, tied to the mast and longing for that soul of peace and joy that the white whale’s death would bring. It is the Old Lawyer who reminds us of the virtue of empathy, a gesture of care and responsibility that is lost on the Young Lawyer, caught up in a bureaucracy of Risk Management, Incident Reports, deadlines, goals and the paraphernalia of modern technology. His fanatical quest for success and its rewards will inevitably erode the values that distinguish the human being from the machine.
Dene Kermond as the Young Lawyer. Ben Crowley as Bartleby. Max Cullen as the Old Lawyer.

In the intimate setting of Street Two and as a part of The Street’s innovative Hive Programme, , Bartleby strikes a relevant and familiar chord.  One would be hard put to find a finer production team in Canberra to do Melville’s morality tale greater justice. Cullen is masterful as the Old Lawyer, steeped in the ethics of the past, gracing the wisdom of his years and battling the frustrations of his age. Kermond plays the Young Lawyer as a warning in frantic motion. His future offers scant hope for a world of harmony and care.

Directing one’s own written work can confront the perils of inexperience, but Hobba is ably supported by dramaturg, Peter Matheson, a trio of fine actors, Christiane Nowak’s simple but functional design, Gillian Schwab’s lighting and Kimmo Vennonen’s excellent sound design and jazz soundtrack, soothing in its mellow sound but also unsettling in its unpredictability. Schwab and Vennonen revel in their skills with the powerfully dramatic nightmare sequence upon the deck of Ahab’s Pequod.

Hobba and the Hive Programme at The Street have done Canberra audiences a favour by bringing Melville’s short story to an audience at a time when more and more people face the dehumanising effects of unemployment or social alienation or where those in work too often are suffocated by the demands of a burgeoning bureaucracy. This production again raises the question of society’s responsibility to care for its citizens. Bartleby is theatre at its best. Confronting, challenging, thought-provolking and reminding us that the theatre is the place for society’s most important questions, and hopefully some answers along the way. This satisfying and absorbing production should not be missed.


Sunday, July 27, 2014


Written by Michael Hemming
Music and additional lyrics by Andrew Hackwill
Directed by Richard Block
Presented by Dramatic Productions and Ickle Pickle Productions
Belconnen Theatre
25 July – 2 August, 2014

Review by Len Power 25 July 2014

Writing a musical, they say, is one of the hardest things to do.  Most musicals go through various incarnations until they arrive at their final form and even then success isn’t assured.  I’m sure that ‘The Rokitelly Man’, a new Australian musical, will continue to evolve beyond this inaugural season at the Belconnen Theatre.  It should, because it’s basically a worthwhile and entertaining show.

Michael Hemming’s book concerns a na├»ve young guy, Jeremy, working as a packer in a toy factory who has a brilliant design for a new toy.  The head of the design department steals it off him and he learns to stand up for himself and find his true love along the way.

Director, Richard Block, has done a fine job bringing all the elements of the show together.  The set design, credited to a team including the director, is attractive and creates the right atmosphere for the cartoon-like action that follows.  Multiple scene changes are, for the most part, handled smoothly.  The large version of the toy designed by the show’s hero, Jeremy, has been superbly done.

Miles Thompson as the young designer, Jeremy, gives an appealing performance and has a pleasant singing voice.  Alex McPherson as Cindy, the girl of his dreams, is charming and delivers her songs with a touching level of emotion.  Debra Byrne, Max Gambale and Joe McGrail-Bateup as the toy factory bad guys give appropriately hammy performances and perform their songs with ease and great humour.  Miriam Miley-Read as the man-hungry secretary, Angela, gives a standout performance that is both hilariously funny and sad at the same time.  She knows how to get the most out of a song, too.  The rest of the cast give enthusiastic and nicely-judged performances.

Musical director, Max Gambale, trained his cast vocally very well, but it’s a pity the music had to be pre-recorded.  I understand there are probably budget considerations here, but it makes for a sound lacking in energy.  A couple of cast members seemed to have difficulties vocally with some of the emotional songs late in the show, too.

Choreography by Kathyrn Jones was delightful and suited the skills of the performers and style of the show.  Some of the jokey touches that were fun at the start, though, became a bit wearing through repetition as the show progressed.  Costumes by Anne Mewburn-Gray were nicely imaginative.  The fancy dress party costumes were particularly well-done and very funny.  Hamish McConchie’s lighting design gave a good atmosphere to the whole show.  The show isn’t using amplification and at times words get lost from the performers.  However, the sound balance between the recorded orchestra and singers is fine.

Andrew Hackwill’s music score is a winner with appropriate variations in style to suit individual characters and moments in the play.  The lyrics are clever and add to the fun of the show.  It needs a stronger song for the finale, though.

The book of the show needs some trimming.  It takes too long to get to the main plot of Jeremy’s toy design.  Subplots involving Jeremy’s friends, while fun, slow the show down and there’s too much time spent on the bad guys of the toy factory, too.  The more serious second act needs more light and shade after the fun of the first act.

At the start, the audience was requested to take photos with their phones during the show and put them up on social media.  As a result, my attention was distracted from the stage whenever a phone screen lit up.  The joy of live theatre is to be drawn in to the action happening before you.  Why would a serious director agree to anything that disturbs the concentration of his audience during his show and why would a production team risk having a pile of poorly taken amateur photographs turning up on Facebook?  This is a good little show and doesn’t deserve to be harmed by gimmicks like this.

Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ showbiz program with Bill Stephens on Sunday 27 July 2014 from 5pm.


Written by Michael Hemming.
Miles Thompson (Jeremy) Alex McPherson (Cindy)
Music and additional Lyrics by Andrew Hackwill
Director: Richard Block
Musical Director: Max Gambale
Choreographer: Kathryn Jones
Presented by Dramatic Productions and Ickle Pickle Productions
Belconnen Theatre until 2nd August.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Written by prolific Canberra songwriter Andrew Hackwill, and Michael Heming, “The Rokitelly Man” is an engaging new original musical, complete with tuneful, toe-tapping songs, imaginative choreography by Kathryn Jones, a witty set design and colourful costumes. It tells the story of Jeremy, a packaging department assistant in a failing toy emporium, who invents a best-selling toy robot called “The Rokitelly”. The success of his invention turns around the fortunes of the company resulting in Jeremy becoming the new head of the toy design department.

Max Gambale (Richard) and "The Rokitelly Man" ensemble
Director Richard Block has assembled an attractive cast headed by Miles Thompson, as the gormless Jeremy, and Alex McPherson, as Cindy, the girl he loves and loses. Debra Byrne, delightfully channelling Hyacinth Bucket as the over-bearing proprietor of the toy emporium, Max Gambale as the suave marketing manager and Joe McGrail-Bateup as the opportunistic former toy design head who becomes a victim to Jeremy’s success, all provide amusing characterisations. Miriam Miley-Read almost steals the show with a delightful comedy performance as the deliciously ditzy, Angela.

Though it’s a shame that the dull, pre-recorded backing tapes drain away much of the necessary oomph and spontaneity of the musical numbers, that un-ironed costumes spoil the gloss, and an inexplicable change of style in the last 10 minutes plunges an otherwise frothy entertainment into some kind of Brechtian morality tale, there is still much to enjoy in “The Rokitelly Man”.    

An edited version of this review appears in the 26th July digital edition of CITY NEWS and will appear in the print edition out Wednesday July 30th.

Friday, July 25, 2014



Wombat Stew. Based on the book written by Marcia K Vaughan.  Illustrated by Patricia Lofts. Stage adaptation and lyrics by Gary Young. Original Score and arrangements by Paul Keelan. Garry Ginivan Attractions and the Canberra Theatre Centre. Canberra Theatre July 24 – 26, 2014.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

The cast of WOMBAT STEW

Whenever a Garry Ginivan Attractions show comes to town, you know you’re in for a top-notch production for children. With previous successes such as  My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch and Possum Magic, Ginivan has earned an enviable reputation as the leading  producer of  dinky-di, true-blue stage adaptations of popular Aussie children’s books. His latest offering of Wombat Stew, based on a story by Marcia K Vaughan, is no exception. Every drop of cunning trickery from Vaughan’s story of the bushland animals’ attempts to rescue a wombat from the dingo’s stewing pot is added to Gary Young’s delectable recipe of music, songs, dance, mime and puppetry to the utter delight of the young audience.

Young’s adaptation uses the clever device of a strolling company of players to enact the story of Wombat Stew.  It is an old, familiar tradition that works exceedingly well, and readily invites the young audience to use their imagination and accept the conventions of actors playing out Dingo, Platypus, Echidna, Lizard, Emu and Koala. The Stage Manager introduces the Clap Like Thunder Players, a motley band, and roles are apportioned to the members of this travelling troupe, in an opening scene, not unlike Shakespeare’s depiction of the Mechanicals in A Midsummer Night ‘s Dream, in which characters plea for their favourite part and demonstrate their prowess. Kookaburra and Wombat are presented as puppets.

A lively, fun-loving ensemble of very versatile and adroit actors enter the colourful storybook world of Wombat Stew with all the elan of seasoned professionals. Children’s Theatre is serious business, demanding the highest standards and challenging performers to enchant and excite. Clap Like Thunder Players don’t disappoint. Young’s adaptation pulls out all the stops with larger than life characters, catchy musical numbers, slick choreography and lashing of audience participation. I have always been sceptical of token audience participation, but in this production, before a large school audience of young primary age children the company encourages purposeful involvement, that never becomes gratuitous or gets out of hand. It’s all good fun, and it holds the kids’ focus as they happily engage with a story that many of them could possibly have recited by heart.

Mums and Dads will have just as much fun watching their kids’ enjoyment of seeing a favourite storybook come to life in a delightful, funny and energetic way upon the stage. And like all good tales for young and old alike there is the moral of Clap Like Thunder’s play that every child will cherish: Look after your friends.

So next time you hear that “gooey, brewy, yummy, chewy Wombat Stew is coming to a theatre near you, get on down and take the kids to the best Children’s Theatre show in town.  It’s a fail-safe recipe for a feast of fun entertainment.




Thursday, July 24, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014


Simon O'Neill as Otello
Opera Australia
Joan Sutherland Theatre until August 2nd.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

There can be few opera productions with a more breathtaking opening than Harry Kupfer’s masterful staging of Verdi’s “Otello”, currently being presented by Opera Australia in the Joan Sutherland Theatre of the Sydney Opera. 

Amidst the sounds of a raging storm, Otello and his courtiers burst into a war-damaged foyer, through the French windows high at the back of the stage, and tumble and rush down a huge flight of stairs. The effect looks so stunningly dangerous that you immediately want to reach for the rewind button to see how it is done. However it sets the mood perfectly for the emotional turmoil that follows as Otello succumbs to the jealousy skilfully and relentlessly fanned by his treacherous ensign, Iago.

Desdemona (Lianna Haroutounian and Otelo (Simon O'Neill) argue in front of their guests.
The entire opera is staged on Hans Schavernoch’s single setting of a massive black and red bomb-scarred staircase dominated by a huge statue of Atlas.  For the most part this works well, as the stairs provide endless opportunities for imaginative staging of the huge chorus scenes. The bomb damage allows plenty of dark areas in which the various characters can skulk and spy.  However, it is not so appropriate for the later scenes. Surely Otello would have found a more intimate space in which to harangue and ultimately murder Desdemona.

Armenia soprano, Lianna Haroutounian, making her Australian debut taking over the role of Desdemona at just one week’s notice from Tamar Iveri, proved a pleasant surprise with her dark beauty, warm, milky soprano and captivating stage presence. One might have wished for her to show a little more gumption at Otello’s constant accusations of infidelity, but her resigned acceptance of her fate, as she sang the final “Ave Maria” was very moving.

Desdemona (Lianna Haroutounian) and Otello (Simon O'Neill)
New Zealand heldentenor, Simon O’Neill, soon to be seen in Canberra as one of the stars of "Voices in the Forrest" at the Nationals Aboretum, and making his role debut as Otello, was a thrilling and commanding Otello, carefully shaping his interpretation as the opera unfolded. His interpretation is very physical and the moment when he plummets headfirst down the stairs is quite breathtaking. However he is a very pale Otello, which made Iago’s constant references to “the moor” a bit puzzling.

Another newcomer, tall, dark and swarthy baritone, Claudio Sgura, was an excellent Iago, oozing malevolence, and insuring the audience was never in doubt as to who was the baddy in this opera. Richard Anderson (Montano) and David Corcoran (Roderigo) offer fine supporting performances, although James Egglestone was a rather colourless Cassio.

Cassio (James Egglestone) Desdemona (Lianna Haroutounian) and Emilia (Jacqueline Dark)
Although having little to do in the early sections of the opera, Jacqueline Dark, as Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s maid, Emilia, was a sympathetic presence throughout, and in the final moments, following Desdemona’s murder, her spirited performance is completely compelling.  

Once again the huge Opera Australia chorus was impressive, both in the richness and accuracy of their sound, and with their attention to detail with their movement and acting. Particularly as in this production they have a rather daunting setting to negotiate while wearing at various times costume designer, Yan Tax’s splendid evening wear or large coats. AS always, the Australian Opera and Ballet orchestra, this time under Christian Badea, impressed with its spirited playing of Verdi’s magnificent score.

Despite what must have been a difficult rehearsal period, given the number of changes from the originally announced cast which offered Tamar Iveri or Nicole Car as Desdemona, Marco Vratogna as Iago and Michael Honeyman as Roderigo, none of whom are present for this season, Harry Kupfer’s superb production, under Revival Director, Roger Press, remains an impressive staging of this superb Verdi masterpiece.    

Otello and chorus
                                                                       Photos: Branco Giaca


Bangarra Dance theatre
Canberra Theatre – 17-19 July 2014

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Bangarra Dance Theatre is like no other dance company performing in Australia today. It dances to the beat of its own drum, guided by the clear-eyed vision of Artistic Director, Stephen Page. Page is not only one of the country’s most respected and innovative choreographers, but also able to clearly and ingenuously articulate his vision, as demonstrated in the standing-room only first-night pre-show forum.
Jasmin Sheppard as Patyegarang
For his newest work, made to celebrate Bangarra’s 25th  Anniversary, and presented in Canberra directly after its inaugural six-week Sydney season, Page has incorporated all the elements which make Bangarra unique. Highly -skilled dancers with a distinctive movement vocabulary, fluid, idiosyncratic choreography, superb design, original music, and excellent production values are all on show.

Determinedly abstract in its telling of the relationship between an Eora woman and an officer in the first fleet, and performed to a stunning soundscape by David Page which includes snippets of the Darug language, “Patyegarang” is both visually and aurally arresting. Within an evocative textural landscape created by Jacob Nash and lighting designer, Nick Schlieper, and echoed in Jennifer Irwin’s gorgeous sculptural costumes, the work moves fluidly and seamlessly through a series of mesmerizingly beautiful episodes, which include at one point, the smell of burning eucalypts.

Thomas Greenfield as William Dawes

Jasmin Sheppard is luminous as Patyegarang, and Thomas Greenfield, the only non-indigenous member of the cast, impresses as William Dawes. Both Waangenga Blanco (Ngalgear) and Elma Kris (Burulalalalung) are stand-outs for their strong presence in what is essentially an ensemble masterwork.


Sunday, July 20, 2014


Cabaret. Book by Joe Masteroff. Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Music by John Kander.Directed by Jim McMullen. Musical Direction by Rhys Madigan. Choreography by Shasha Chen. Canberra Philharmonic Society through special arrangement with TAMS WITMARK MUSIC LIBRARY INC. Erindale Theatre.   July 10 - 26, 2014

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Angel Dolejsi as Emcee

It was with great expectations that I went to see Canberra Philharmonic’s production of Kander and Ebb’s musical, Cabaret, based on Christopher Isherwood’s  Berlin Stories. My expectations, not preconceptions, were not based on the Bob Fosse film with Liza Minelli as Sally Bowles, Joel Grey as the Emcee or Michael York as Isherwood’s alter ego, Clifford Bradshaw. Nor were they aroused by the excellent and well-deserved reviews of colleagues, who unanimously have enthusiastically praised Jim McMullen’s vibrant, disturbing and powerfully imaginative production. No, my expectations were engendered by a visit to the Jewish cemetery in the Czech Republic’s second largest city, Brno. On my grandparent’s grave, and like so many other headstones throughout the cemetery, there are also engraved the words “In memory of” and the names of relatives who were victims of the Holocaust and whose bodies would never be honoured with dignified burial.
Mat Chardon O'Dea as Clifford Bradshaw

Kander and Ebb’s musical is set in Berlin at the time of Hitler’s rise to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933. Seen through the eyes of newly-arrived American novelist, Cliff (Mat Chardon O’Dea), Cabaret tells the story of aspiring  cabaret singer Sally Bowles (Kelly Roberts), the love and lives of the older generation , Frau Schneider (Ros Engledow) and Herr Schultz (Ian Croker), the decadent world of the seedy Kit Kat Club and the sinister rise of Nazism.  Cabaret is a tragic tale of lost innocence, futile love and a nation on the brink of racial, ethnic and human degradation. It is the mournful saga of a world that no longer exists. It is a tragic account of hope, vanquished by history’s cruel twist of fate.
Angel Dolejsi, Kirsten Haussmann and Beth Deer in "Two Ladies"

And did Philo’s production of Cabaret meet my expectations? Absolutely. If anything, they surpassed them beyond my wildest imagining. Here is a production that will linger in the mind for years to come. Every number from Wilkommen to Life is a Cabaret is a hit. Every character is drawn with such earnest concern for truth. Every element of production from Jim McMullen’s direction to Michelle Adamson’s stage-management, from McMullen and Ian Croker’s set design to Hamish McConchie’s lighting, from Miriam Miley-Reid and Christine Pawlicki’s costuming to Shasha Chen’s choreography, from Rhys Madigan’s Musical Direction to Peter Barton’s audio design has been thought through with meticulous regard for period, style and theme.
Kelly Roberts as Sally Bowles and the girls of the Kit Kat Club

What I did not entirely expect was the high level of performance from every character in this production. As the standard of musical theatre in Canberra continues to astound, audiences have come to expect an impressive level of performance. Philo’s production of “Cabaret” surpasses expectation and raises the bar even higher. Excellent casting has made this production a performance tour de force.

In a production as uniformly excellent as this is, and blessed with an ensemble as tight and talented as are the girls of the Kit Kat Club, the patrons and the principal performers, it is worth noting the high standards reached by some of the principal actors. The success of this musical in large part rests on the casting of the Emcee and Sally Bowles. In this respect Philo has triumphed. Angel Dolejsi’s Emcee is your likeable buffoon, chameleon in his shift from camp to vamp, seductive and slyly sexual, and yet with the inner sadness of the clown within the Kit Kat costume. In the final image of the Auschwitz inmate, wearing the Yellow Star of the Jew, high above the stage the audience is shocked by a stroke of ingenious theatrical interpretation into understanding Cabaret’s tragic message. This is where McMullen’s imaginative vision and Dolejsii’s performance fuse the crumbling era with the impending tragedy.
Kelly Roberts as Sally Bowles

Fragile, vulnerable, the ex patriate in search of love and admiration, Kelly Roberts is the perfect Sally Bowles. Here is inspired casting. From the soulful longing of Maybe This Time to the defiant resolve of the title song, Cabaret, Roberts is magnetic with a voice that can tug the heartstrings or excite the passion. Effective use of the follow spots brings the audience directly into her experience and we share her confusion, her longing and ultimately her resolve to defy the inevitable fate.

As the writer Clifford Bradshaw, caught up in the fearful events of the approaching cataclysm, Mat Chardon O’Dea brings the ideal tone of innocent naivety to his performance. He plays the foil to perfection as a world he cannot fully understand whirls about and engulfs him.
Ian Croker as Herr Schultz. Ros Engledow as Fraulein Schneider

The sentimental favourites are without doubt Ros Engledow and Ian Croker as Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz. These two experienced troupers command the stage: Engledow with her stiffly German sense of propriety and harshly powerful voice and Croker with the charming gentility of the European Jew, who also remains oblivious to the consequences of the frightful rise of Nazism. There is also excellent support from Dave Smith as questionable courier, Ernst Ludwig and Kitty McGarry as the sailor’s comfort, Fraulein Kost.

My only quibble is with Tomorrow Belongs To Me. McMullen has chosen to deliver this as a song of idealistic hope, rather than the threatening anthem of fascism. As the Nazi banners unfurl, I would have preferred this song to swell from its earlier rendition into a reprise of fanatical fervour, but that is a personal interpretation and in a production as uniformly intelligent and superbly staged as this, it is a small quibble. I did miss the smoke-filled, sweat-aromatic atmosphere of the divinely decadent Kit Kat Klub. Fake fags are a poor substitute, but the rules are the rules and we are left to use our imaginations.
"Mein Herr" at the Kit Kat Club
Sally and the Kit Kat Dancers

Canberra Philharmonic’s production of Cabaret will stand as one of the great standouts on Canberra’s Musical Theatre scene. Above the stage, the outstanding orchestra offers the reprise tunes as the enthralled audience leaves the theatre, aware that they have seen a Cabaret of the highest calibre. Director and conductor, Jim McMullen, sits at the side with a plume in his headband.  This Cabaret is a real feather in the cap for Canberra Philharmonic and the team. Don’t miss it!

"If You Could See Her" Emcee and Gorilla
All photography by Shae Waite


Artistic Directors: Nick Byrne and P J Williams
The Street Theatre
Wednesday 16 July to Sunday 20 July, 2014

Review Challenge Heat One by Len Power 16 July 2014

When was the last time you laughed so much that it hurt?  That was my experience on Wednesday evening when I went along to the first challenge heat of Improvention 2014’s, Canberra Impro Challenge.

Improvention is a festival dedicated to the art of Improvisation and Impro ACT is Canberra’s Improvised Theatre company which was formed in 2005 by current Artistic Directors: Nick Byrne and PJ Williams.  Impro ACT teaches and performs all types of improvised theatre, such as that seen on TV’s ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’.  The Canberra Impro Challenge is in its tenth year in 2014.

The evening presented two heats of ten performers each competing for the chance to go through to the final challenge of the heats winners being held on Sunday evening.  Performers, individually or in varying sized groups generally up to about 4, are called to the acting area and then given themes or situations they must act out completely unscripted.  The quality of performance of each item is then scored by the intensity of applause by audience members.  In addition, as the heat progresses, two judges eliminate performers on the basis of skills displayed.  This method of judgement ultimately produces an individual heat winner.

The inventiveness, spontaneity and courage of these performers is remarkable.  The theme ‘historical replay’ required performers to perform a domestic scene first normally and then repeat it as if they were in Ancient Rome, then in the Elizabethan Era and finally in the American Dust Bowl of the 1930s.  A lecture theme on ‘How Continents Were Made’ produced an eccentric professor stating that, ‘Barcelona was, of course, the old Yiddish word for the centre of the earth’.  A particularly terrifying challenge required performers to create and perform a play forwards and then backwards using the line ‘Hooray, a horse!’  My particular favourite required performers to produce a play with no laughs at all on the theme, ‘Feather bed factory’.  The first line offered in a very serious tone by one of the performers was ‘Here they are, the new geese…’  Of course, it got the biggest laugh of the night!

Being involved in improvisation theatre offers training in many skills and not just for actors.  You learn to think on your feet, develop strong communication and team skills and be more creative and fearless - all skills which are transferable to everyday life and work.  Impro ACT offers improvisation training courses which are well worth considering.

Even under the pressure of competition, you could see that the performers were having great fun on Wednesday night.  The audience quickly joined in with the relaxed and crazy spirit of the evening.  There were serious skills on display here by the talented performers and it was also hilariously funny.
Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Dress Circle’ showbiz program with Bill Stephens on Sunday 20 July 2014 from 5pm.