Film Club is a cinematic-based comedy improv troupe that’s taking PBH’s Free Fringe by storm. Performing daily in Revolution Bar’s downstairs Function Room, the small group is introducing a fun twist on improvised theatre to their eager lunchtime audiences. Rooting a series of improvised scenes from a given movie genre, the group produced a quick-witted and cleverly crafted hour long-performance.
Opening with a brief spiel explaining the concept of the performance, Chris East quickly warmed the audience with hearty and well-versed humour. Asking a few, rapid-fire, cinematically themed questions, East prompted a roaring response and perfectly set the stage for a light-hearted improv set. From a chorus of favourite films, it is then down to just one audience member to pick the theme for the afternoon’s performance, a fun gimmick which ensures no two days will be the same.
A classic prompt, no doubt, the first audience member to suggest their favourite film piped up with Inception, thus opening the door to an hour of heist-themed improv. Taking their cues from classical moments, characters, and tropes from the genre, the first five minutes is an opening brain-storming session, which discusses a range of appropriate movies. Flexing their film-watching credentials, it is clear you’re in the hands of experts. From planning meetings in surprisingly empty American diners to laser lights and banks, a vast bank of heist-related themes and scenarios was created.
Having established these themes, the team then launch into a number of short forms of improvised scenes, which come together in classic, movie-montage style. Performing alongside East on my viewing was Jennifer Tyler, Aram Balakjian, Jessica Napier and Jessica Flood. An energetic crew, they led through scenes full of surprising twists and turns. From the humorous planning meeting of a daring milk heist between East and Balakjian to Flood and Tyler playing a pair of hapless laser-light escapees, the performances were fast-paced, and well-developed for the short time they had.
Whilst at times a tendency to talk over each other produced some muddled plot points, for the most part, the group worked in well-rehearsed synchronicity. Notably, they were well-attuned to each other’s performances, clearly stepping in from the sidelines to help with a new prompt or character if any of the scenes became stilted. A fun method of moving along scenes was the use of camera shot terminology to add greater depth to the on-stage performances. For instance, as Tyler sang a drunken hotel rendition of the Empire State of Mind mid-Inception style scene, Balakjian swooped on stage, hands miming a zoomed-in-camera, to announce: “five hours later”. It’s these small details which added a polished professionalism to the scenes and helped to link them together in the cinematic, heist-themed universe.
A very clever idea for a show that’s brimming with love and knowledge for film, Film Club Improv is an exciting hour of entertainment.
Film Club – An Improvised Comedy was showing at PBH’s Free Fringe @ Revolution Bar (Function Room) August 19, 21-26 at 13:25.
Image credit: courtesy of Aram Balakjian, provided to The Student as press material.