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Instant Theatre – The Actor’s Nightmare

Comedy, Events, Improv, Reviews

April 21, 2017

At the Havana Restaurant on Commercial Drive there lies a small black box style theatre space hidden at the back. This is where you will find players from Instant Theatre strutting their stuff. On the third Saturday of every month is when Instant improvisers and five guest actors bring you The Actor’s Nightmare – Scripted Theatre and Improv Collide!

As the title suggests, an actor’s nightmare is not knowing their lines, or worst, not knowing what play they are even in. This is exactly what happens in Actor’s Nightmare. Each improviser is paired up with a guest actor who will act out their memorized scripted lines. The improviser then must react to the scripted lines and make a cohesive-ish act. The result is a series of unexpectedly hilarious one act plays.

 

Allie Entwistle doing audience warm ups

 

The night began with host Allie Entwistle introducing the show with an explanation of what to expect and some fairly standard improv audience warm ups. The first actor-improviser pair, Abbey St. Brendan and Janet Davidson were then invited onto the stage. Janet started with asking for audience suggestion of an object: a whisk. The scene began with Janet whisking a bowl of something (a cake!) and Abbey’s Mary Aldin burst in exclaiming something about a murder in the house. The ensuing entertaining chaos of trying to find out who was murdered, who was the murderer, and how Janet’s character became an inadvertent accomplice had the audience in endless laughter. After the act was over, Abbey revealed that her scripted part was from Agatha Christie’s Toward Zero.

 

Abbey and Janet discussing a murder and cake!

 

 

Next was an original piece by Bennett Taylor and improviser Trang Nguyen. Trang’s 12 year old farm girl entered the scene with bucket of milk from their old cow, Betsy, and presented it to her father (Bennett) while contemplated whether the boy from next farm over would take her to the dance. We come to learn that Father worked as a cashier at a restaurant, Bob’s Big Ol’ Steaks. Unfortunately, Betsy succumbed to some sort of ailment involving a ball which resulted in a field full of cow blood.

 

Bennet and Trang investigating Betsy’s illness

 

Third set of the evening was a dramatic observation of bird behaviour by Vuk Prodanovic and Maddy Rafter as Captain and Miss Pennywise. This short half-improvised act started on a submarine, with the Captain’s overreaction to Pa, his seagull friend’s antics, but later was revealed that Captain and Miss Pennywise were criminals on the run. Criminals with a heart, having a heart to heart. There was also a giant heart in the sky, or possibly crows…? Vuk’s scripted part was from Urinetown: The Musical.

 

The second to last pair was Ella Berger as Niki (Curtains) and Mark Sears. The scene took place during intermission of a high school play, Macbeth: The Musical. Mark’s character, a drama teacher named Frank Gower was texting when Niki, whom Mr. Gower embarrassingly misnamed Amber multiple times, barged onto the scene. Niki was reluctant to replace the lead actress who fell off the stage and injured herself as Lady Macbeth. Revelations of death threats and forbidden romances followed, as Mr. Gower was trying to get someone to carry the injured girl off the front rows.

 

Ella and Mark having a crisis during “intermission”

 

Lastly, Julie Casselman and our erstwhile host herself, Allie Entwistle. Allie was given the audience suggestion of “a rack of watermelons”, and thus, Jacob the Watermelon Merchant was born. As the scene progressed, we learn that Mary Snow (Julie), a kumquat seller, and Jacob were once engaged, but Mary promised herself to Jerome since Jacob ran away a year ago. Apparently Jerome was quite the mansplainer and told Mary all kinds of things, such as all the pretty names of the moon’s mountains and valleys, and that bald men are very potent. Yes, potent. There was also a dog ghost. The act ended with Mary sliding her engagement ring off and making suggestive eyebrow movements at Jacob. Julie’s excerpt is from Salt-Water Moon by David French.

 

Julie and Allie at the watermelon rack

 

All in all, The Actor’s Nightmare – Scripted Theatre and Improv Collide! was very entertaining and kept the audience in stitches, which is par of course for Instant Theatre improv shows. The scenes held up surprisingly well though it is not without a dash of chaos, but what’s improv without a healthy dose of entropy. I would highly recommend The Actor’s Nightmare if you are in the mood for some comedy on Saturday night.

The next showing of The Actor’s Nightmare – Scripted Theatre and Improv Collide! will be on May 20th at 10:30 PM, tickets available here.

 


Eva Mak is a local producer, artist and lady about town. You can tweet at her @originalevamak 

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471

Instant Theatre – Outer Middle Zone

Improv, Reviews

March 10, 2017

Vancouver is an improv town, boasting several improv theaters that teach and mold gaggles of improv artists each year. The most innovative and prolific is the Instant Theatre Company. Their show lineup is eclectic but well thought-out, ranging from themed performances to all out free-for-alls, where you can see the talents of the many troops that are forming or have coalesced via their school.

One of the most unique shows to come out of the Instant Theatre is The Outer Middle Zone. “Behind this dark curtain lies another dimension – a dimension of late night science fiction theater inspired by The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. A dimension where some of Vancouver’s top improvisers bring you astonishing tales from the border of the everyday and the uncanny. The dimension we call… the Outer-Middle Zone! Cast members Nikolai Witschl, Brad Duffy, Travis Bernhardt, Chelsey Stuyt, and Max Tennessen spin stories filled with unexpected twists and macabre turns, all made up on the spot based on your suggestions. Get all the chills, suspense, hilarity, and surprises your all-too-human brain can handle at Instant Theatre’s late night science fiction triple feature!”

The stories spun that night were eerie and delightful, the story of a man who swindled his way into a more modern hell, a white room without a means of escape and with no one to entertain him; a man stranded on an island, reliving the terror of interacting with the ghosts of a family he was marooned with; and the terror of being forced to battle for space on the last rocket ship, leaving Earth before the ever-increasing gravity imploded the planet and everything and everyone on it.

I have seen a lot of improv and it can be hit-or-miss, but Instant Theatre proved to be more of the former and none of the latter. There were moments watching this that I felt slightly terrified and touched by emotions that were honest but not pleasant, though in a good way.

The actors faithfully and lovingly capture the tension and fear that was North America in the middle of The Cold War. Skillful and clever, they were able to evoke the cheesy camp of early TV commercials for products that no one would want, the dryness of a newscast of that era all while battling through suggestions that would flub up those less skilled.

Instant Theatre is a gem and the future of improv in this town. If you ever get a chance to go to a show, please do: you will not be disappointed and if you feel the urge to hone your improv or comedy craft they would be happy to teach you. Visit http://instanttheatre.com/ for their show and class schedule.

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