Wellington Fringe Review: Definitely Not Witches
Reviewed by Anna Sutherland
The improvised comedy Definitely Not Wtiches at BATS last night was extremely funny synchronised chaos, with the audience providing many of the biggest surprises of the night.
For example, a question to the audience “Has anyone ever written a letter and not sent it?” revealed that an audience member once found a message in a bottle on a beach, wrote a reply to the US-based sender, but was too shy to post it. And did you know that the game of tag is called chasing in Ireland?
Audience participation is one of the keystones of improvised comedy, and these talented actors wove magic from the suggestions. But they are not sticklers for improvisation conventions. Some improvisers frown on wisecracking or breaking out of character during a scene, a device known as gagging. This troupe broke this rule in every scene and the night was much funnier for it.
When one performer greeted another: “Hello Mr Policeman, actually no, Ms Policewoman, there’s no reason for you to be a man just because you’re a police officer,” we laughed. But I thought that this, and many of their other asides, revealed a nuanced feminism, one that pokes sly fun at the patriarchy while poking holes in it.
But gender politics played a very secondary role to the purpose of the evening – to make the audience laugh. This team is witty and committed, and will be bringing us more shows under their Kickin’ Rad Productions banner.
The premise of this show is that the ensemble are all to be burned at the stake for witchcraft. They take turns to prove that they are not a witch by each directing a scene or two to tell a story. A lacklustre scene will prove that they are not a witch, as everyone knows that witches are excellent storytellers. The audience decides who will burn by rating each scene.
I thought the stories worked best when there was a tighter framework, such as a preliminary set-up through mime and sound, or where the actors were directed to perform a scene from a musical.
The troupe seemed to hit their stride more towards the end of the evening, but there were no scenes that proved that these improvisers are definitely not witches.
Definitely Not Witches
Kickin’ Rad Productions
BATS Theatre, The Dome, 1 Kent Terrace
Dates: 25-28 February 2015, 9:00pm
Tickets: $18/$14/$12 Addict Card Holders