Im­prov at Cen­tre­point

The Down­ton Abbey phe­nom­e­non con­tin­ues.

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - $20 book­ings are on­line at cen­tre­, on 354 5740 or at Cen­tre­point’s Church St box of­fice.

The up­per crust Craw­leys and their below stairs ser­vants may have bade good-bye to the small screen, but they’re about to em­brace the live stage.

Cen­tre­point Theatre launches its 2016 sea­son tonight with Down­ton Ad-Lib, an ad hoc on-the-hoof homage to the pop­u­lar award­win­ning Bri­tish pe­riod drama. with five mem­bers of Welling­ton en­sem­ble The Im­pro­vi­sors.

‘‘We sup­ply the char­ac­ters,’’ ex­plains the troupe’s di­rec­tor Tim Gor­don, ‘‘while the au­di­ence sup­plies the key plot in­gre­di­ents. The re­sult is cos­tume drama as you’ve never seen be­fore, and likely will never see again.’’

Founded in 1990, The Im­pro­vi­sors cel­e­brated their Sil­ver Ju­bilee in 2015.

‘‘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’’.

Troupe mem­ber Ian Har­court, who plays Lady Dowa­ger Twat­ting­ton in the pe­riod drama re­boot, re­calls what hap­pened dur­ing a Welling­ton per­for­mance when the au­di­ence was asked to con­trib­ute an el­e­ment that would make a great father’s day present.

‘‘Some­one came up with ‘X-Box’, but of course we’re set in the 1920s, so we mis­heard that as ‘egg-box’, and an egg box be­came a cen­tral fea­ture of the show.’’

The short sharp Cen­tre­point sea­son of Down­ton Ad-Lib from Fe­bru­ary 17 – 28 isn’t The Im­pro­vi­sors’ first foray to Palmer­ston North. In 2013, they were guest en­ter­tain­ers at the Globe Theatre Awards.

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