Soothplayers Present the Completely Improvised Works of Shakespeare

By Lisa Clark Soothplayers

The Soothplayers have really set themselves a ridiculously arduous task. To create a Shakespearean play on the spot in front of an audience for our pleasure and pain, but then, improvisers love a challenge. They’re clearly nuts and I love nuts.

There are no ‘names’ in this comedy troupe, they are a bunch of fresh faced performers keen to entertain but sharing an hour with them you certainly get to know them and some of their amazing skills. The important skills these improvisers possess include; creating interesting characters, comic timing, understanding how stories work and the ability to remember to stay in the Sixteenth Century (there was a mention of chocolate cake but I think they got away with it.)

Tonight’s story was in a Midsummer Night’s Dreamy style involving a grouchy King (Ryan Patterson in a standout performance), his tapestry weaving daughter (Cat Commander), a couple of silly faeries called Pickleblossom and Juicefairy (Imogen Palmer and Charlotte Salusinszki), and a whole host of villagers who perform a play within a play in order to convince the King to give them a regular holiday. It had been inspired by an audience member’s suggestion of ‘A holiday tomorrow’. The performance is accompanied by minstrel Caleb Garfinkel doing a fine job on the mandolin and supporting the odd song that pops up unexpectedly.

I’ve always wondered about how much preparation goes into improvisation, do they decide beforehand what style it’s going to be in or make up some jokes to throw in? Well there certainly seems to be some sort of structure which may or may not have been previously worked out. Scenes are created by performers in pairs to start with, then a scene with the whole cast and so on. One thing is for sure, there is no conferring once the performance has begun. The players stay on stage throughout, with those not taking parts in scenes moving to the side to watch on silently.

Impro has always terrified me somewhat, I cringe at those awkward moments as the performers scrabble to put words together that will further the scene. Others might get off on those thrills, the performers certainly seem to. It threatened to go off the rails with complications at one point but the performers picked it up and took it into a more unexpected and interesting direction. They know each other’s capabilities and have learned to put their trust in one another.

No show will be the same, so your experience is bound to be different to mine, but these are certainly a band of merrie players you can put your trust in for a fun night of storytelling and making stuffe up.

The Soothplayers are performing at THE IMPROV CONSPIRACY THEATRE til Oct 3

Kilian David – Kililiananan Davavidid

By Elyce Phillips Kilian David pic

Sydney comic Kilian David has brought his first solo show down to Melbourne Fringe this year. Kililiananan Davavidid is a likeable collection of sketch and stand-up, showcasing David’s talent for creating characters and impersonating David Bowie. The material is hit-and-miss, but there are some moments of fantastic comedy that shine through

That Kililiananan Davavidid is David’s first solo show is fairly apparent. The more successful elements of the show are sketches, often involving David playing several characters interacting with one another. The stand-up sections of the show, however, needed work. David is a likeable storyteller, but the stand-up pieces felt unstructured – like a tipsy mate telling you a rambling story down at the pub. David occasionally struggled to find the right words, and his stories often fell flat at the end, not arriving at any sort of strong punchline. The stand-up wasn’t delivered with the same confidence as the sketches, and so the show lost its momentum during these parts.

There were definitely some promising moments in Kililiananan Davavidid, though. An audaciously simple bit involving David clicking his fingers to music was absolutely hilarious, as were a series of mime performances set to the score of The Never Ending Story. The sketches were all strong and performed in an assured manner. David showed a real ability for establishing characters through voice and expression, and that brought these parts of the show to a higher level.

Kililiananan Davavidid is a mixed bag of a show, but tucked in amongst the shakier moments are some real comedic gems. David definitely has the skills to create a hilarious solo show. His material just needs some more refining to take it from affably amusing to something truly great.

Kililiananan Davavidid is on at the Highlander Bar until October 3

Isabel and Rachel in PRIME!

By Lisa Clark PRIME

It’s pretty much impossible to review this show without spoiling the fact that the blurb for the show in the Fringe Guide is in fact the description of the show within the show that is Prime by The Sisters of The Moon. Layers, Isabel and Rachel are good at layers.

The audience enters the small black velvet draped space to the strains of Enya while being further assaulted by choking incense belching out at us. Isabel and Rachel really enjoy making their audience suffer for their laughs. Dressed in black velvet cloaks with hoods obscuring their faces Isabel and Rachel lampoon the worst kind of dull, wanky, serious theatre sending the girls in my row into explosive, uncontrollable fits of laughter. I remember how painfully awful some uni drama productions could be (Always with everyone in black with bare feet) and this made me laugh a lot too.

Pretty soon everything turns around and all is not as it seems. We are introduced to the performers; recently divorced Deborah (Rachel Davis) and her obnoxious fourteen year old son Jono (Isabel Angus), who valiantly try to mount the advertised Fringe show after being abandoned by Deborah’s performance partner and best friend Jillian. The hyper and obnoxious Jono keeps derailing the production by scoffing at everything and insisting on throwing in his own segments of The Jono Show which he worked out with his mate Macca.

Isabel has again created an astonishing charismatic creature in Jono, who unsurprisingly steals the show. She has clearly been hanging out with teenage boys and has gotten all the mannerisms and speech patterns down perfectly. It’s utterly jaw dropping and only the sly hairbun at the back is a reminder that you are watching a woman performing. It’s wonderful also to see Rachel Davis given a bigger space to shine this year as the anchor of the performance; the exasperated, jilted mum who is trying to keep things together.

Last year’s Winner of Best Comedy at Melbourne Fringe: Isabel and Rachel’s Edge! was a vicious takedown of the sexualisation of children, the media and Girlie-Girl Culture. This year they explore the hip-hop and Dude-Bro Culture that younger boys are aping but are this time less savage and balance the satire with a warmer heart. There is also a gentle laugh at extreme new-age style feminist culture and the hilarity in the contrast between that and Jono’s revulsion towards it. It took me a while to work out why I felt that this year’s show wasn’t quite hitting the high mark, then realised that perhaps it was the lack of any presence of the father in this tale (unlike last year’s ever-present yet offstage monster Mother) which weakens the concept somewhat as there is less understanding and sympathy for how Jono has been shaped. Still, this is ferociously funny, entertaining and occasionally over the top outrageous.

Isabel and Rachel are a wildly talented pair who have again created one of the most fabulous comedy shows at Melbourne Fringe and an unforgettable character in Jono. These women are definitely stars in the making. See them now so one day you can say you were then when….

Isabel and Rachel’s Prime is on Upstairs at Errols Cafe til Oct 3

For Information and Tickets:

CapperJack – Back In The Habit Reloaded 2000

By Colin Flaherty Capperjack

Capperjack bill themselves as a sketch duo like no other and they sure aren’t kidding. Nick Capper and Jack Druce perform an off the wall strand of sketch that, no matter how bat-shit crazy each sketch gets, feeds a narrative arc. They also bill this show as the second in a saga but missing the previous instalment won’t affect your enjoyment of this hilariously wacky story.

The main gist of the tale involved Capper and Druce as co-hosts of a talk show. They were getting restless so they approached their benefactor Diesel Guts Calhoun about changing the format. This led to the creation of a show within the talk show, Ernest Capper and the Low Flying Duck, complete with Jack Thompson-esque narration, visuals and an epic ballad.

The talk show element allowed them to poke fun at this television format and perform some hilarious commercials during the “breaks”. The action also moved to the world outside of the talk show, a world full of ridiculously grotesque characters and a twisted logic of its own. This gave them plenty of excuses to dress up and put on silly voices (particularly Capper) which was a hoot. When minor characters threatened to outstay their welcome, it reeked of indulgence but added to the insanity.

This was a rather dense script that threatened to trip them up at one point but a quick thinking techie reset the scene for them and we were back on track. There were lots of crazy ideas thrown into this show and even when they seemed quite random in isolation, it all tied into the narrative beautifully. We saw plenty of word play, butchering of phrases and deliberately lame concepts taken to extreme lengths. There were even some cheeky jibes at the comedy industry to appeal to the comedy nerds / comics.

One puzzling thing was the game cards distributed to the audience as we entered the venue. These suggested that we were to play an interactive role in the show but when the relevant scene rolled around, we were relegated to the roles of extras with no input other than being warm bodies and applauding the on stage action. I guess this baffling experience fitted in with the surreal nature of the show.

This pair worked perfectly as a comedic duo with Druce’s droll demeanour suiting the role of straight man while Capper spouted all sorts of silly nonsense. When they were playing themselves, these were wonderfully heightened versions that gave them licence to poke fun at each other’s real life achievements.

With an insanely short Fringe run, you’d better rush if you wish to catch the awesomeness of Capperjack.

CapperJack – Back In The Habit Reloaded 2000 is on at the Imperial Hotel until October 2nd

For booking details visit

Hewy and Taunts Go H.A.M.

By Daniel Paproth Hamtauntshewy

I’m a huge fan of hip-hop. So I knew from the second the Melbourne Fringe program was released I wanted to see Hewy and Taunts Go H.A.M. – a reference to the song of the same name by Jay-Z and Kanye West. Unfortunately, the hip-hop is largely restricted to the show’s title and intro and outro music, but you seen forget about all that as you watch two talented young comedians and friends hit out about 25 minutes of their best material.

Sam Taunton is up first, asking provocative questions of the audience’s drug-taking habits “there’s always one person who’s tried ice” and talking about how afraid he is that he will turn into his father. Some of the material misses, some of it hits – especially the highs and lows of living in a share-house and what that teaches you about economics – before he hands over to Tim Hewitt.

Hewitt’s set delves deeper into impressions than Taunton’s, and it works wonderfully well. There is an extended insight into an old man starring in an insurance commercial, positive and upbeat in seeking donations for “the price of a cup of coffee” before an elongated meltdown. His set finishes very, very strongly with a vivid recreation of the Brisbane bogan’s borderline sexual love for utes and V8 Holden Commodores.

Plenty of great moments in this show, which we’ll hopefully see sharpened and fleshed-out in the years to come.

Hewy and Taunts Go H.A.M. is on at The Imperial Hotel til October 2

Strong Female Character

By Colin Flaherty

Strong Female Character

Heroes can be important, particularly for a young girl. Rowena Hutson chose to look up to the male characters from the many action movies she watched and here she explored the attributes and foibles of such heroes and what life lessons they can provide. What followed was an emotional rollercoaster that entertained and informed.

The show began with a hilariously over the top staging of all the Die Hard movies with non-stop gunfire and blood pack wounds. Hutson then moved into stand up about growing up a tomboy, gender confusion and her love of action movies. She went into great detail about her family’s eccentricities , not all of it was wall to wall laughs but it was relatable and she could certainly hold the audience’s attention.

When Hutson wasn’t delivering monologues, she was dancing around holding handwritten cards featuring quotes from and observations about her beloved heroes. Combined with some silly costumes and some comical dancing, these musical interludes were a fun idea. Most of the humour on these cards was based on recognition of the particular film, so if you hadn’t seen it you’d miss the joke. This was a charming device but got a little repetitive after the second time. She also got amongst the crowd, flirting with them in the guise of a favourite action hero.

The performance took a sharp turn into some very dramatic territory about a very personal experience that needed to be told. Some may have telegraphed where things were headed but for most of us it was quite a shock, seeing as she initially sold this as a fun and raunchy story. Compared to the frivolity that proceeded it, this was heavy stuff and save for the odd nervous laugh from some uncomfortable punters, all humour was put on hold. The scene was played out brilliantly, alternating between dancing to a sexy song and halting the music to recount the incident in great detail. Not only did it put the audience into a state of unease, this emphasized the event as predator versus victim. She had built up enough goodwill with the audience that they willingly went with her and thankfully things had an optimistic finale, it was all wrapped up with a wonderful letter to her younger self.

This was an impressive performance. It was a brave, powerful and important show that needs to be seen by everyone, not just by teenage girls who need to hear the wisdom that Hutson expounds.

Strong Female Character is on at the North Melbourne Town Hall until October 3rd.
For booking details visit