PopRox Improv Comedy Nights - Reviewed by Madelaine Empson | Regional News Connecting Wellington

Photo by Scott Maxim

PopRox Improv Comedy Nights

Presented by: PopRox

Circa Theatre, 28th Apr 2024

Reviewed by: Madelaine Empson

On the last Sunday of every month, local improv troupe PopRox puts on an immersive, cabaret-style improv show in the restaurant, bar, and foyer of Circa Theatre. Tonight’s story, creatively directed by MC Jed Davies and produced by Dylan Hutton, starts at Mainland Automotive. Here, Jonny Paul’s Tony (not to be confused with Tony from Tony’s Tyre Service) toils away fruitlessly until he joins forces with a very smart professor (Lia Kelly) who helps him build flying cars. Soon, the shop will become more successful than even Mainland Cheese.

Prior to the breakthrough, it’s chaos. Mainland Automotive’s employee Sally (Nina Hogg) never shows up because she’s too busy working her other job as a news reporter. Sarah (Tara McEntee) is in a rut and cannot escape the butt-dent on her couch. A really large building is on fire, and no one inside is stoked about it. Especially not the fire warden (Davies).

Isaac Thomas adds exceptional guitar to the action that matches the vibes at all times, while lighting designer and operator Sam Irwin utilises a neat red wash on the fly as the fire blazes, burning brighter by the minute.

Given the space, I was expecting a bit more interaction and wandering, if you will, from both the cast and audience. We’re told we can get up at any time but no one really does, which I suspect comes down to our ingrained theatre etiquette. More crowd work to help us loosen up and move around would go down a treat.

The cast utilises the space to create a show highlight when they spread out to play Sarah’s conscience, booming platitudes and cryptic clues in surround sound. More fantastic moments stem from the seamless integration of theatre sports and improv games – like when Hogg, Paul, and Kelly combine into an all-knowing entity to demand we “Ask another question!”

Improv done right is one of the best things you’ll see, so go see PopRox. I’m in awe of these expert players, who make up a riotous story, then tie all its loose ends in a bow like wings on a car in five minutes flat. What an uplifting end to my week.

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