‘It’s a Knockout’ is a comedy improvisation show by the Kepow theatre company; think ‘Whose Line is it Anyway’ and you are on the right track. There were two teams of ten, and each team was further divided up and given various scenarios by the host, which they had to perform immediately.
Many of these scenarios were drama games. One which stands out was the ‘yes let’s’ game where performers had to suggest something to do, say ‘yes let’s’ in unison, and then enact the scene- leading to ridiculous and highly amusing actions - ‘let’s pretend we are slugs’ and ‘let’s pretend to be celebrity chefs’ (this included an excellent impression of Lloyd Grossman discussing a crème brulee). Another favourite challenge was set in the normal scenario of a dinner party - except that participants were not allowed to say any words that included the letter ‘s’. I also particularly enjoyed the ‘ventriloquist’ scenes where off-stage improvisers ‘spoke’ for the on-stage performers. It was fascinating to see how the performers could literally be at the mercy of each other, having to act out whatever the other was suggesting.
The participants had all just completed an improvisation course hosted by Kepow. For some this was possibly their first time of=n stage, but one would never be able to guess this. Every one of them was cool and confident, and no-one became flustered or showed nerves. It was evident that they shared a great rapport with each other and that they were really enjoying what they were doing. I was impressed at the use of their movement and physical skills - they contorted, cavorted around on the stage, and expressed good body language in their scenes. It was good to see actors making the most of the space on the stage and be so unrestricted. I especially liked some of the performers facial expressions- without even speaking they were conveying their thoughts and feelings effectively. The audience consisted of several family members and friends of the performers and there was a very supportive and relaxed atmosphere in the theatre.
The prize for each winner in the team was, sticking with the theme of silliness, a stick of celery. A head-to-head between the finalists from both teams was promised (a £5 note was the grand prize, certainly an upgrade from the celery!); unfortunately there was no time to have this ‘improvisation-off’ as the show ran out of time. This disappointed me as I was looking forward to seeing a final round and the crowning of the winner, but none of the performers seemed disappointed and neither did the audience so I suppose it was just my competitive streak making me miss this omission.
Being a part-time actor/performer myself I personally really enjoyed this show - I did feel like jumping onto the stage and having a go myself. Perhaps the company could consider more audience involvement in the future, even if it is just shouting out possible scenarios to the performers. One slight criticism I had was that on occasion it felt like the host was ‘directing’ the performers too much - I would have liked them to have been given just slightly more autonomy in how they wanted their scenarios to evolve but I appreciate that can be difficult in bigger teams.These are just slight criticisms of what was a hilarious and enjoyable night. Do not go expecting serious drama and seasoned thespians; go with an open mind, anticipating a light hearted evening, to quote the host ‘quite unlike anything you have seen before’ and you will have a great time. The challenges could also be adapted to provide some great party games this Christmas. Cheers guys!