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August 12, 2013 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Playshop Live – The Guest Designer Series

PlayShop Live‘s new season, The Guest Designer Series, introduces a new props manager each week who creates props based around audience prompts. These props are meant to be used as the basis of each skit or game in this late-night improvised show.

The Guest Designer Series is a mixed lolly bag. You have your standards: your jet-planes as a throng of charming performers. You have your giant-jaffa host to guide you through the show. You have a new game involving lightsabers which doesn’t quite work, but the failure is funny. Let’s equate that to a sherbet fizz. What I expected in my packet of Friday-night delights was something exciting. The new addition of improvised props that makes up The Guest Designer Series meant that I was salivating for some sweet visual gags.

The props were used very actively in some games and in others were just hand-held nuisances. At the start of the show, host Will Robertson asks the audience to give the designers a motivator for their prop construction—one of which ended up being Cats the musical. These starting points are never mentioned again in the show, which left me wondering what the purpose of that game was. The props themselves end up at milk-bottle level for me. Good, but not exciting.

Guest Designer is non-competitive, which is great for advancing narrative over laughs. It was great to see the performers focus more on having their scenes make sense than vying for the audience’s affections. In this way, PlayShop will be able to experiment with some long gags, and perhaps play around with some familiar characters. This new format feels like it needs a bit of exercise out in front of an audience, but has the potential to be tight and clever.

Special mention to Tom Clarke for inventing a dystopia and establishing a whole disease-ridden world in one improvised monologue. Bonus points to Sam Phillips’ grin for making everything adorable. Also to Lori Leigh for making a genius phallic joke. The joke was innocent, but it did get me thinking that the PlayShop cast is very sausage-heavy. Where are the PlayShop women? The ladies you have are hilarious, but I would appreciate even more funny femmes on my Fridays.

Milk bottles and all, the PlayShop mixed bag is still a delicious experience. Go, indulge, and laugh until you wet yourself a little.

PlayShop Live – The Guest Designer Series at The Paramount Theatre every Friday, 10.15 pm. Tickets: Waged $15, Unwaged $12 from paramount.co.nz.

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