‘After Hours: Singalong’ was a party.
The word that makes every actor shudder – “improv”. Suppressed deep in every creative mind are memories of Year 8 Drama Class, games of ‘bus stop’, and the desperate attempts (and failures) to be funny. None of these fears phased Big Fork Theatre who demonstrated once again why they are staples of the Brisbane Improvisational comedy scene.
‘After Hours: Singalong’ was like a karaoke session between the cast and audience, which collectively belted out tunes from ‘Bananarama’ to ‘Grease’, and even ‘The Wiggles’ (‘Hot Potato’ is always guaranteed to be a smash hit). After each song, the MC, Cameron Watson, came up with a scene idea loosely based on the lyrics for the cast to improvise.
In order for improvisational comedy to work, the ensemble needs to have one hundred percent trust in one another to accept all offers and graciously surrender the limelight when the impulse strikes another actor to supersede. Despite having different styles of comedy, the ensemble seamlessly worked together to create developed scenes and characters.
Such is the unpredictable nature of improv, some of the jokes were eye-wateringly funny and some failed to land. The ensemble had an instinct for reading the room and telling when an idea had little scope for embellishment or didn’t fit the group’s dynamic, and so would swiftly tap out to try a new route. Blossoming stories that had the audience in fits of laughter would stay to reach their full potential.
The style of comedy that Big Fork Theatre really nailed was fleshing out the absurdities of the jokes and their stories. A personal favourite was when a human was going on a date with a shark (don’t ask). The second was the off the cuff witty remarks, which prove just how talented the ensemble were. These moments had the audience breathless and audibly remark, “I couldn’t think of that”. An example of this wittiness was from Taylor Edwards who, in her role as the moon trying to go on a date with the sun (again, there were some unorthodox couples in this show), earnestly pleaded, “I’ve got a dark side too”.
A stand-out performance came from Jim Reynolds, a founding member of Big Fork Theatre, who fully embodied every character via physicality or accents. Adam O’Sullivan was also an actor who drew the audience’s eye with his quirky imagination and wild gestures. His rapport with Reynolds as two dockworkers named Jimbo had the audience in hysterics.
Chris Martin was another founding member that shone. A generous actor, he always accepted the offers of other actors and tried to embellish each as much as he could. His genuinely shell-shocked face and comments at some of the more absurd scenarios made him all the more hilarious as he mirrored the audience’s reactions to the whirlwind happening before their eyes.
The most unique aspect of this improvised show was the use of a live band to play hit songs – keys played by Mark Grimes and guitars shredded by Glenn Seaby. The duo launched into each song with gusto and, with the lyrics displayed on the screen behind the performers, the audience were prompted to sing along to the familiar songs. Audiences revelled in the experience and, while lyrics were provided, they didn’t really need them.
‘After Hours: Singalong’ is the perfect late-night cap at the end of the working week. It’s an hour of fun, nostalgic music and easy light-hearted comedy to put one’s mind at ease. However, the improv-show will leave you envying the actors’ quick wit, bold-faced confidence and epic karaoke parties.