Left - (l-r) Glenn Hall, Brianna Williams and Emmet Nichols
In a New York Minute is not an improvised comedy show. However, with many familiar faces from the Perth comedy circuit being in the cast, I went along without doing any research on the show, just knowing it was improvised and suspecting it would be funny. Apparently I was not alone. In the first half, it became abundantly clear that the majority of the audience were on a different plane to the actors.
Given that the season was all but sold out before it opened, my published thoughts will be inconsequential to audience numbers. In fact, it was so popular that they announced another show. But will the audiences get what they are expecting?
Inspired by random suggestions from the audience, Glenn Hall, creative director of Spontaneous Insanity, endeavoured to weave the stories together and for the most part, the cast cleverly picked up on his character development cues.
For the first act, the audience latched onto every joke they were thrown, even some lines that were intended to be nothing of the sort. And, being unscripted, the actors naturally reciprocated by feeding on the only response they were getting from us.
Hall made many and repeated attempts to rein the actors in and focus the audience, even stopping play to reverse the offering and guide the cast toward an alternative.
Credit must go to Hall and everyone involved for creating something different and risky. There were some really engaging moments and I saw the actors strive for sincerity and depth, but rarely did we, the audience provide them with the support required to tap into serious emotions. Since seeing the show last night, I have done my research and found that the advertising was geared toward preparing us to accept drama: “Gripping unscripted theatre, No teams, No scores”. This is a reference to differentiate it from The Big Hoo Haa which is comic based theatre sports. There is a short trailer for In a New York Minute showing mystery, murder, intrigue and menace... not a hint of humour. So then why was the audience last night taking every opportunity to make laughter? Were they, like me, uninformed and operating upon assumption?
With all confusion about the theatrical style aside, it must be said that the three piece band The Triple Threats was wonderful. They used vinyl; computer recorded backing tracks, synthesised effects and ingenious instruments. Like the actors, their performance was impromptu. They chose sounds and instruments appropriate to the scene unfolding.
The ambiance in the studio was classy, with cabaret seating on a number of raised stages to prevent obscured viewing.
I think audiences are in for a treat as the season progresses. With new scenarios every night, there is no telling what kind of show you are going to see but there is a depth of talent and a very interesting creative drive behind this project. Keep an eye out for more in the future.
Spontaneous Insanity present
In a New York Minute
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre
Dates: 3 - 6 November 2010
Times: 8pm (and 10pm Sat 6 Nov)
Duration: 1 hour 45 min (inc 15 min interval)
Tickets: $25.00 - $19.00