Theatresports All Stars: Battle of the Champions

Enmore Theatre. May 6, 2019

Reviewed : May 5, 2019

Photo : Stephen Reinhardt

Competition across the ages was buzz-word for this impro extravaganza. Theatresports veterans from the heady days of the 1980s teamed up with, or were pitted against, some of the bright young things that are making their mark on the twenty-first century impro circuit … and other stages. Together they battled for the ‘Championship’ title in a series of impro games that stretched the imagination – and the discerning eyes of the judges, led by another veteran David Poltorak. Poltorak was Cranston Cup Grand Finalist back at Belvoir Street in 1986 and teammate of Andrew Denton, Steve Johnston and David Witt in the legendary, and very witty team, called Writers Bloc,

The full house, like the event itself, drew together enthusiastic followers of all ages: old Theatresports tragics; young kids involved in the Theatresports in Schools program; inter-generational Comedy Festival committed. An audience like this defies age gaps, gender gaps and prissy conservatism. They are there to support the players, wonder at their ingenuity, and have fun. And that’s what they got!

Pringles opened and drinks in hand, they were ready for anything and this year’s host, Fat Pizza and The Habibs star Tahir Bilgic revved them up even further. Using his stand-up impro skills – and a few Bankstown High-based memories to remind the ‘sprogs’ that we were all young and cheeky once – Bilgic introduced the players, the judges, the format and producer and timekeeper, John Knowles, impro aficionado, storyteller of note and one of the hilarious God’s Cowboys.

Photo : Stephen Reinhardt

With a call to arms from these Comic Commanders-in-Chief, the battle began. Veteran impro ‘knights’ like Lisa Ricketts, David Callan, Michael Gregory, Dan Cordeaux and Rob Johnston swung creative swordswith Jane Watt, Cale Bain, Jeromaia Detto and Rob Boddington. Witty warriors Jestika Chand, Elliot Ulm and Rachael Colquhoun-Fairweather from the 2018 Grand Final superstar team Mission Improbable 3 joined the fray, quick-thinking rapiers drawn.

Feinting and parrying, they dodged and evaded blocking, changed direction at a moment’s notice, and kept the clash of ideas alive until the final battle bell tolled.

But it was teenage rookies Louisa Cusumano and Finn Hoegh-Guldberg, fired up with their millennium-age missiles, who won the day. Side-stepping distraction and riding on the experienced backs of their legendary opponents, these neophytes of competitive improvisation stole the initiative – and the title!

Improvisation develops skills essential in all walks of life – teamwork, creative thinking, confidence, listening – and is the basis of good acting and script interpretation. Theatresports brings it front-of-stage in spontaneous action that’s fun for everyone. Australia’slongest-running comedy show, Theatresports has been entertaining audiences – and shining the light on brilliant new performers – for 33 years.

This year’s The Battle of the Champions celebrated and paid homage to those years by ‘reuniting the legends and introducing the brilliant new guard’. Check out further Theatresports/ Impro Australia classes and events at:

Also published in Stage Whispers magazine.