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Improv Festival has audiences in stitches

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to wednesday westerns

Wednesday Westerns.

WHILE the Suidoosterfees dominated the Cape Town theatre scene last week, the Improv Festival got off to an entertaining start in Kalk Bay.

The Capetonian improv theatre group Improguise had the idea to create a festival around the long form version of improv, and they might just have a good thing going.

They started on Wednesday night with a Western, with Candice D’Arcy acting as director, calling the shots from the side of the stage, eliciting her own giggles from the audience as she struggled to read her stage directions in the dark.

She kept the story of Rattle Snake Creek from wandering too far off the path, controlling the pacing of the scenes. Actors improvised their lines according to her stage directions, such as “The sheriff is hanging up wanted posters in his office” to start a particular scene.

While the younger members of the team were faster of the mark and kept the jokes coming – probably channelling Django Unchained – the older members who played the sheriff and madame – were more into the meaningful stares and long silences, no doubt thinking back to The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and the like.

Garth Tavares’s presence at the keyboards probably had a great deal to do with that, since he was providing a continual soundtrack to the action, including picking up on the actors’ actions to act as foley artist. The sidebar with Anne Hirsch as the store owner and the hanging bells proved to be one of the best jokes of the evening, thanks to his timely intervention.

Being an Improv Festival, this particular show the way I described it will never happen again because the actors really wing it, they make it up as they go along. Therein lies the infectious fun because actors having a ball of a time makes for an amusing evening.

Everyone has to be really quick off the mark and spot on in order for this to work, and their opening performance shows that it does.

The next night was Thursday at Thornton Hall for a night of long sighs, letter writing and meaningful glances, with a pirate musical on Friday and a crazy amalgamation of different skits on Saturday.

With this festival Improguise prove there’s more to improv than just TheatreSports (which also gets a turn Tuesday) and this hopefully becomes an annual event.

• The Improv Fest continues at Kalk Bay Theatre, repeating the same themes until Saturday.


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