An operatic moment from the Bank sketch.
The winning team enjoying their moment.
The winning team enjoying their moment. Production photography by Stephen Reinhardt.

Judging Celebrity Theatresports held at the Enmore Theatre last Saturday night is like trying to critique a box of Smarties. We were assaulted by a barrage of colour and humour to suit all tastes.

Improvised theatre is just that, made up on the spot but it is a competition and therefore subject to a few rules. At this performance there were 23 performers split into six teams.

A team has 3 minutes to complete their skit and it must include the subject or theme that is spontaneously  provided by either the host or a member of the audience.

The adjudicators Professor Larissa Behrendt, Pastor Ray Minniecon and Anne Wilson scored each team out of a possible five points based on technique which means a clever line is offered to the next team member and how inventively she or she accepts it. Next, teams are judged on narrative; that is if it is a rattling good yarn and finally on entertainment, meaning its comedic value.

The topics were as diverse as a divorce under water, an opera sung in a bank about a withdrawal issue and a sketch where three team members in unison, in one voice, that is all three saying exactly  the same thing to prompts from the fourth member.

Deborah Cheetham, our premiere indigenous opera singer sang beautifully and with wit in the bank number. Other highlights included Jay Laga’aia slyly incorporating playschool references and Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham cartwheeling and ‘pole vaulting’ across the stage for his team.

It was extraordinary how many children were in the audience. Cheetham, when interviewed by co-host Jon Williams, (the other co-host was Jane Simmons), discussed the benefits of improvisation  in self esteem and confidence boosting  in shy or introverted children. Proceeds from the evening went to the newly founded Indigenous Theatresports Youth Fund aimed to providing freer Theatresports shows and training to indigenous kids across the state. The entire cast and crew donated their time to this hugely entertaining evening.

A sponsor for the evening Clem’s Chickens nominated its ‘moment’ of the evening which was a sketch where the performers had to entertain us whilst reciting their lines in alphabetical order; that is each performer had to perform a line starting with the next letter in the alphabet from the previous line. This skit involved their recital at a zebra crossing. David Callan, who happened to be wearing a striped sleeve sweater, was the zebra crossing and lay prone across the stage, spontaneously all twenty three team members jumped up and walked on top of  him striking funny poses. Clem’s Chicken moment required the initial sketch to be repeated in slow motion which made the scene even funnier.

Coming in third place was the team of Matthew Mitchum, Amanda Buckley, Steve Lynch, and Dr Jioji Ravulo. Second place was taken by Jay Laga’aia, Bridie Connell, David Callan and Deborah Cheetham. The winners, despite being one team member short, were Dean Haglund, John Knowles and Jim Fishwick. The performers were ably assisted by Gep Blake who had to be very agile on the keyboard to keep up with the twists and turns of the improvisations.

The night was a great success with the Enmore Theatre being packed to capacity., I found the inventiveness of the performers and the way in which they plunged unhesitatingly ad fluently into their improvisations, remarkable.

Humour is a matter of taste and the night tickled  my palate. I laughed a lot.