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Read: Austen Found needed a bit of structure

Each year, the New Zealand International Comedy Festival serves up an eclectic mixture of shows and styles. You might think that stand-up is the hardest of the styles, but I think improve is actually way more difficult. If you get it wrong, it’s excruciating to watch. When done well, it is truly a delight to behold.

This year, the improv show Austen Found took the legacy of Jane Austen and used audience participation to come up with an absurdist ‘musical’ parody of the author’s collective works.

The result was a charmingly watchable show that produced some genuinely funny moments, but it also had some fairly ropey moments. 

This was due to a mismatch in the cast. Penny Ashton lead the ensemble and was witty and quick. As with all good improv, she knew when to make fun of the obvious mistakes and the crowd loved it. Unfortunately the rest of the cast were not quite as strong, and one in particular seemed completely overwhelmed by the whole premise and spend the entire hour struggling to react to anything his cast mates said to him. 

Perhaps with a bit of structural pre-planning this show could have been incredible. As it was, despite the improv challenges, it was quite enjoyable.


14-18 May 2019

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