Wild Things by the House of Improv was my first ever experience with improvised comedy, and as a result I wasn’t sure what to expect. The show began by giving the audience a quick warm up to get into the spirit of the show. After learning what animal my friend thought I most looked like (an owl), an ‘endangered’ animal was generated from the audience’s suggestions to become the subject of the show. For the opening night, it was the ‘Snazzy Toed Giraffe’.
The point of improv is that each night is a different experience, so dissecting the plot of the opening night for this review would be fruitless. That being said, I greatly admired the close relationship between the characters Miranda (Kat Cooper) and her dance teacher husband Jeremy (Vidy Reddy); this for me was a particular highlight in the show, adding much comedy. Alison (Sofia Castello) added multiple comic opportunities as Miranda’s best friend as well as the ‘enemy’ of Jeremy as dance teacher of the ‘rival school’. Miranda was left torn between her husband and best friend, and her phrase “I don’t take sides unless it’s the snazzy toed giraffe’s side” quickly became a personal catchphrase.
I would also like to commend how well the cast pulled us into believing we were in a ‘small town’ in the outback despite the simplistic set. It is testament to the performances that the audience was so immersed in the show; at one point, we gasped as a group when, on a completely bare stage, Jason (Olivia Route) and Clark (Kilian Lohmann) started cutting the hooves of the giraffes. Credit must also be given to Matthew Kemp, who provided the background sound to the whole production ‘live’ on a keyboard, tying the whole production together. Personally, I found the moments where the keyboard and the gestured jangling of the hoofbox didn’t quite coincide the funniest. It reminded me that the show, however slick, was indeed being made up on the spot, and hence had the potential to go anywhere. Jake Shapter’s understated lighting design also deserves mention, and he made the bare stage feel like it was changing as the play progressed.
I left my first experience of improv pleased. I had been engrossed in this one-night-only make-believe world which had been created on the spot, with no props, costumes, or stage settings to aid my imagination. This show is a true testament to the House of Improv’s talent.