Improvised theatre can have a number of different handles when it comes to getting inspiration for its scenes. I must admit that I was very intrigued by the notion of matching cards from the ever so popular fad ‘Cards Against Humanity’ in order to get suggestions. One, for the way it would be handled; and two, how it would be sustained for fifty minutes. Four black cards are read out, one at a time, and the audience shuffle through their white cards to submit a match. After a recap of the four matches are given, the players are ready to interpret them the best way possible, and ‘Improv Against Humanity’ unfolds.
What could have easily have been a running series of gags and continual envelope pushing is instead a show of tightly interlaced improvisation. The moments that play towards the slightly obscene (an expectation from the source material provided) are there, yet they are built up over the night through a mixture of short and longer scenes that establish character, relationships, and scene setting. The usual expert techniques are there, call-backs to other scenes and characters, tagging players out to provide another angle from the other character’s point of view; the players have a clear understanding of each other’s strengths, and have bonded together tremendously, which is becoming the high standard expected from an Improv Conspiracy show.
What’s most wonderful about this show is that there never really felt like the players had the need to rush their actions or dialogue, but instead took the time to ground themselves without the need to force any humour. ‘Shouty’ moments arose, but were kept to a nice minimum, and scene wipes were intelligently integrated, leaving the show feeling slick with an overhanging professional vibe. Nicely played.
Corey M. Glamuzina is a Melbourne-based actor, writer, improvisor and comedian with an avid involvement in the art of theatre and film.
‘Improv Against Humanity’ runs from 18-25 September at The Improv Conspiracy (Level 1, 19 Meyers Place). The venue is not accessible.