TheatreSports Holiday Special

Dates and Venue 12 November - 27 December 2008 @ 7.30 Wed/Thurs & 8pm Fri/Sat | New Revue Stage, Granville Island

Performers Brian Anderson, Tim Cadeny, Elizabeth Bowen, Denise Jones, Ken Lawson, David Milchard, Taz Vanrassel Executive Director Jay Ono Sound Improviser Laura Skelton Set Design Ted Cole

Reviewer Ed Farolan

I remember reviewing Star Trick when our e-zine just started more than 10 years ago, and since then, we've been reviewing this "special event" group. It's not traditional theatre, in that lines are memorized and there's blocking designed by the director. With improvisational theatre, as the name of the group implies, it's some kind of a sport. A lot of physicality is involved; there's even choral music mixed in, as well as, in this particular show, an improvised musical!

The audience is a vital part of the improvisation. The way this particular show was handled was a referee would ask the audience to suggest a topic they'd like the six performers to play out. The six are divided into two groups, and after they do their improvs, the audience then selects which group does a better improv. Then they pick up a gift under the Christmas tree and inside, they find out how many points they get for winning.

It's funny and it's fun, as we there's an audience that loves this kind of event. Jay Ono, in his programme notes states that he had many childhood memories of Christmas specials, and so he thought it might be a good idea to have a Christmas special for TheatreSports. The programme also lists more than 30 performers, and I assume that there are seven different performers everyday the show is produced. Naturally, there will also be different Christmas topics.

In its opening night performance, the audience was asked what unusual topics they wanted the improvisers to do. Someone shouted "Dental Surgery". I was impressed how this theme was improvised. It was done in musical fashion! And really funny hearing the actors sing their lines.

The actors also ask for volunteers. I suspect sometimes whether these volunteers are planted. But during intermission, I asked the volunteer who went onstage whether he was planted. And he said no, that he was an audience member and just wanted to volunteer and improvise with the rest of the cast. He even got a gift at the end of the show for being a good sport.

I've always enjoyed VTSL's shows. It's something different from traditional theatre. Even the dates of the performance are improvised (except opening night). There's no last date of performance. I guess they play it by ear, and in this case, when the Christmas season ends, obviously, they'll have to end the run.

This is a fun way to spend one of your Christmas holiday evenings, if you're looking for something different to do and like to laugh and feel good, which is what Christmas is all about.


© 2008 Ed Farolan