I was delighted to start my 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival a couple of nights ago by catching a show at Melbourne’s infamous Butterfly Club. Inside one of my favourite Melbourne performance venues, I was excited to see some good quality improv. In fact, this style of improv, as described in the Fringe program, sounded like nothing I had ever experienced – it required an open mind and engaged listening as the performers would describe the environments and props within each scene. ZOOM kept its promise and delivered a quality performance.
Performers Jason Geary and special guest, Rama Nicholas improvised their way through time and space guiding the audience to ride along for a spontaneous journey. In the beginning, Jason warned the audience that their open-minds and senses were a key to enjoying the performance as he and special guest, Rama, would take them to places outside of the theatre space through imagination. After a brief ‘guided meditation’ to warm our minds up, we ‘zoomed’ to a tropical island somewhere near the equator where we met interesting characters like a French man sipping his dripping pina colada while hunting for a new friend, and the middle-aged, darkly-tanned woman sunbathing in a barely-there bikini who was striving for a compliment from anyone willing to offer. Just before the tensions got too carried away, the performers ‘zoomed” us up into the sky, away from the sand to travel not too far away to meet another interesting set of characters involved in particular circumstances.
This performance is enhanced by music, which is supplied by drummer, Conrad Tracey that is also improvised but adds texture and tension to the scenes. Made me feel like I was enjoying some old-schools beatnik performance of the 1950s.
While many people might expect improv to always play for laughs, ZOOM showcased the form as the tool it actually is intended to be – a means to tell a story, regardless if the circumstances are funny or not. As a fan of improv, I truly appreciated these performers as their skills did nothing more than was necessary; they didn’t play to delight the audience but instead they kept everything simple and real.
With a very limited run of performances at The Butterfly Club during the Melbourne Fringe Festival, ZOOM is a great show that will break stereotypes about improv. Feel very comfortable taking your family and friends to this show because everyone will enjoy it!
For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit the Melbourne Fringe Festival website!