Five co­me­di­ans, in­fi­nite pos­si­bil­i­ties


We may have farewelled the Craw­leys and their ser­vants of Down­ton Abbey late last year, but Cen­tre­point will launch its 2016 sea­son with an hi­lar­i­ous homage to Bri­tish pe­riod drama that’ll de­light both fans and non-fans alike.

Wit­ness our very own aris­to­cratic English fam­ily face the chal­lenges of life in the early 20th cen­tury when Welling­ton’s long­est-run­ning im­pro­vi­sa­tion troupe, The Im­pro­vi­sors, present Down­ton Ad-Lib for a strictly lim­ited twoweek sea­son from Fe­bru­ary 17-28.

Five of the coun­try’s best im­prov co­me­di­ans face the chal­lenge of mak­ing up a brand new episode ev­ery night. Think ‘Whose Line Is It Any­way?’… with a wide range of hats.

‘‘We sup­ply the char­ac­ters,’’ says The Im­pro­vi­sors di­rec­tor Tim Gor­don.

‘‘The au­di­ence sup­plies the key plot in­gre­di­ents and the re­sult is cos­tume drama as you’ve never seen it be­fore and will never see again.’’

The Im­pro­vi­sors cel­e­brated their Sil­ver Ju­bilee in 2015 and Gor­don says he still loves the ex­cite­ment of im­pro­vis­ing.

‘‘We don’t know what ideas (the au­di­ence) are go­ing to throw at us – we do know that our kind of im­prov magic has been keep­ing au­di­ences laugh­ing over many years,’’ he says.

‘‘Each show is com­pletely dif­fer­ent – what does stay the same is that it’s al­ways a great night’s en­ter­tain­ment for the whole fam­ily.’’

At one of the Welling­ton per­for­mances, the au­di­ence was asked for an of­fer of what would make a great Father’s Day present.

‘‘Some­one came up with the an­swer, ‘X-Box’, but of course we’re set in the world of the 1920s,’’ says Ian Har­court, who plays Lady Dowa­ger Twat­ting­ton in the pe­riod drama with a twist.

‘‘So we mis­heard that as ‘egg-box’ and an egg box be­came a cen­tral fea­ture of the show!’’

The first New Zealand In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val of the Arts in 1990 gave birth to The Im­pro­vi­sors. Six lo­cal ac­tors formed a com­pany to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive to the cor­po­rate en­ter­tain­ment and train­ing on of­fer at that time.

Us­ing their train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence in Theatres­ports, they be­gan by bring­ing tai­lor­made, im­pro­vised com­edy to con­fer­ences, of­fice func­tions and prod­uct launches through­out the coun­try.

As well as a busy cor­po­rate clien­tele, com­pris­ing of hun­dreds and hun­dreds of sat­is­fied clients, The Im­pro­vi­sors have per­formed their mur­der-mys­tery show in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Wal­laceville House. They con­tinue to stage suc­cess­ful sea­sons of Theatres­ports and other Im­prov Com­edy at Circa Theatre in Welling­ton.

Down­ton Ad-Lib is com­edy the way you want it – stand up, sit down, lie about – you choose.

Down­ton Ad-Lib runs from Fe­bru­ary 17-28 from Wed­nes­day to Satur­day at 6.30pm, Sun­day at 5pm. Tick­ets $20 gen­eral ad­mis­sion. Book­ings 06-354-5740 or www.cen­tre­

The Im­pro­vi­sors, from left, Kenny King, Aaron Alexan­der, Deana Elvins, Ian Har­court and Tim Gor­don, present Down­ton Ad-lib at Cen­tre­point from Fe­bru­ary 17-28.

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