At its worst, improv is two hours locked in a room with 20 clones of the guy from Office Space who wears 37 pieces of flair. The key is structure – at its best a well-thought out structure gives the performers a scaffold on which to build classic scenes. Mostly.
Obviously Improv, a group that have worked together for years but just hosted their first show on April 19, have taken the Theatre Sports format (performers do skits, judges score them, somebody wins) and grafted on elements from The Hunger Games – and it works. Performers are “tributes” and the city’s various improv troupes are “districts.” The audience can pay casino chips to parachute in help for the teams they favour. The host has blue hair.
The teams were a mix of seasoned veterans and newcomers. The latter were a little more Rue than Cato (to anyone who has been living in a cave since 2012, this means that they were cute, but not great at not dying). Standouts were the Kinkonauts, whose story of avalanches and cannibalism told in strained metaphors was a highlight, and Notorious, who ended a scene with an Oscar-worthy moment with a group hug inside a hula-hoop. The winners were Obviously Improv themselves, by a whole point. We only got to see two members of the company perform anything more substantial than holding up a score card, but they’ve all been working together for long enough that future shows should be worth watching.
It needs a little polish, sure, but the concept is solid and if I had to bet on the future of Obviously Improv I’d say that the odds were in their favour.
By Gareth Watkins
Photo: Clare McConnell (retrieved from Obviously Improv Facebook page)