I’m in Te Whanganui-a-Tara for work. I’m feeling very chuffed that I’ve managed to attend two NZ Fringe shows in one night – then suddenly I get dragged along to a third!
The show stars Austin Harrison and Megan Connolly, two veterans of the Wellington improv scene, as Greg and Janine.
It’s long-form improv – the very best kind of improv! However, it’s a slightly more prepared concept, where certain key points have been decided in advance. This is to be the wedding night of two asexual newlyweds. I don’t know this, so it is a joy for me to discover over the course of the 50-minute show that the two characters are in fact asexual. This isn’t said outright, but it is delightfully obvious to anyone who identifies somewhere along the asexuality spectrum.
Upon arrival, we are encouraged to write a note for the newlyweds and stick it to the wedding board. Prompts include advice for a new couple, or something that can be a minor annoyance in a significant other. A couple of these do get used during the show, but I can’t help but feel that the concept of the show – and the connection between the performers – is so strong that this artificial audience participation is pointless.
At the start of the show, Greg bursts into the wedding room and deposits Janine on the bed rather more forcefully than intended. She appears very winded. We’re off to a great start. The show is already hilarious.
Through the course of the improvised play, the characters play cards, fiddle with lights, get into unsexy pyjamas, and engage in wholesome cuddles while hinting that they don’t desire any higher level of intimacy.
My enduring memory of the show is Greg’s constant smile. He is intoxicated with love, and it is written all over his face.
At times, the things people say create a perfect opportunity for conflict. But that would be the easy way out. Improv descends too easily into killing people! Instead, Harrison and Connolly expertly steer their characters along a path of acceptance and love.
The set is beautifully decorated, and furnished with useful props. What a wonderful privilege to improvise in a full set and interact with real objects and costumes! However, the set doesn’t cooperate. One of the bed lamps is fiendishly difficult to turn on. The curtain that Greg and Janine changed behind falls to the ground with perfect comedic timing. Harrison and Connolly handle all of these setbacks (or, let’s be honest, gifts) with expert wit.
The 50-minute show plays out in one continuous take. It is a pleasure to watch. I leave feeling inspired to get back onstage myself.