The Fusebox at The Factory Theatre buzzed with light excitable chatter whilst adventure-like preshow music sung through the room. The vibe reminding me of when you lined up for a rollercoaster at a theme park. And well, we were about to ride a rollercoaster of sorts…
Except no one knew where that rollercoaster was headed… Including the cast.
‘The Game is Afoot!: An Improvised Sherlock Holmes Mystery‘ is currently playing as part of the 2021 Sydney Comedy Festival. ‘Improvised’ is the key word here – meaning that everything on stage is made up on the spot. No scripting necessary.
Watching the show, it was hard to tell that it wasn’t scripted considering just how witty, quick and entertaining the performance was. Swiftly creating stupefying punchlines and bringing to life the most ‘wacko’ characters, the six-strong cast, Kate Coates, Will Erimya, Edan Lacey, Patrick Magee, Lisa Ricketts and Jon Williams, concocted a delightful storm of a journey. It was captivating, comical, and of course, *woooo* very mysterious.
The basis of this mystery was formed off an audience suggestion. Audience participation is one of my most my favourite things about improv. It always brings me back to my youthful years – you could suggest the stupidest and most ridiculous idea for a game, and everyone would just go with it. Except in this case, I got to put my feet up, guffaw, and watch a bunch of other people do the creative work for me.
Something that I loved was the originality of this show. I mean, obviously it was going to be original – it’s improv. BUT whose amazing idea was it to use Sherlock Holmes novels as the ‘heart’ of the show? Such a genius move. The elements of the mystery genre made the performance a great ‘first time’ show for any improv newbie.
Speaking of newbies, let me swing the attention towards my 60-year-old mother who accompanied me. She is on her very first comedy journey and went in totally cold. In honesty, I was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to follow along. But these qualms were pacified. She was very chuffed with herself that she knew ‘who was who’. This can only be attributed to the fabulous characterisation by the performers, many of whom played multiple roles. Moreover, as the show went on, my mum kept turning to me, eyebrows raised, head cocked to the side. The adventures kept getting crazier, richer and yet… actually made sense.
It all made sense. And that’s the wonderful and beautiful thing about improv and this show. It’s organic. It’s original. You (and the rest of the audience) are the only ones to have ever seen that version of the show. It’s like being part of a secret club!
‘The Game is Afoot!: An Improvised Sherlock Holmes Mystery’ is vivacious, wacky and just plain funny. Prepare to be charmed, entertained and to sit on the edge of your seat… because *woooo* it’s a mystery.
Ashleigh Ho (She/Her) is an Asian Australian freelance writer who loves anything and everything arts. In the daytime, she is a stage manager and arts administrator. Ashleigh is passionate about working on projects with a focus on underrepresented communities.
The Game is Afoot plays at the Factory Theatre Fusebox until Sunday the 2nd May. The Factory Fusebox is accessed via stairs. Contact the Factory Theatre for accessibility enquiries. Grab your tickets and go on an adventure!