Tag: Andy Balloch

MICF 2016: Dan Pavatich in #1NINJA

Self-help guru for would-be warriors

By Margaret Wieringa

#1 Ninja is a motivational seminar to help you “unleash the Ninja within”  – well, if that doesn’t suggest that you’re going to see a show that probably contains a fair whack of absurdity, I don’t know what will! Dan Pavatich, along with Ivy Latimer and Andy Balloch, take the audience through a variety of sketches joined by the running theme of this seminar.


The concept was quirky and original, but unfortunately the show seemed quite underwritten. I’m a great fan of repeating gags in shows as a kind of call-back, or to make a different point, however in this show there didn’t seem to be any real point to them.  It was a bit of fun certainly, but took away the opportunity to develop the material. However, I have to say I also had a problem with the material. I do not think there was any intent behind it, but there were parts of this show that I found bordering on offensive. The material wasn’t strong enough to actually be offensive, but in 2016, I don’t think you can parody women and ‘gays’. Not unless you are actually making some clever points.

The performers onstage were all quite talented, although all three seemed to have trouble staying focused. Being at a venue called Improv Conspiracy, I wondered if maybe the show was improvised in places, but if it was going to be, maybe let the audience know so they can appreciate it?

There’s a lot of potential here – good performers, unusual concept, some absolutely gold comic lines – I felt it just needed a strong director to come in, pull it all together, ditch the ‘dodgy’ stuff, and give the whole thing a tighten-up.

Also, a hint for attending shows at The Improv Conspiracy – there are no Comedy Festival banners or anything else telling you where to go. Look for a door at the bottom of the Loop Project Space building. There was a doorman, but no indication it had anything to do with comedy. Melbourne Comedy Festival – more info in the program would be helpful. Venue folks – perhaps make a sign or something!

 Where: The Improv Conspiracy Office Space, Level 1, 19 Meyers Place, Melbourne

When: Thursday – Saturday, 8pm, Sunday 7pm March 24 – April17

Tickets: improvconspiracy.com $20/$16

REVIEW: Midsumma Festival’s THE SPARROW MEN

Impro duo take fantastic flight

By Narelle Wood

Marcus Willis and Andy Balloch are The Sparrow Men whom each night promise to take their audience on a completely unique, completely improvised adventure. Combining the audience suggestions of ‘tennis’ and ‘hostage situation’, we were treated to what can only be described as a bizarre, funny and at times surprisingly poignant hour of improvised entertainment.

The Sparrow Men

Taking us on this journey was a sociopathic wannabe-tennis player, his besotted hostage (apparently Stockholm syndrome can work out) and a restaurant with 3 kilos of Parmesan cheese. But it was the honest account of how cookbooks are actually a way for ‘The Man’ to control our lives that provided the rare, and hopefully fictional, glimpse into the inner workings of Jamie Oliver’s brain. This, coupled with a scene where a TV was literally killing a man, was what turned this performance into a social commentary on the pitfalls of consumerism.

I’m fascinated by improvised theatre and the spontaneous development of scene and story. Marcus and Andy are very talented, playing skilfully off each other’s suggestions and mostly keeping a straight face; there were moments of unusual and whacky suggestion that were clearly unexpected and made it all the more entertaining.

The only thing lacking for me was a tying-up of all the vignettes at the end of the show – perhaps it wasn’t necessary but there were some characters that I was really interested to find out how they fitted into the bigger picture and what became of them. Did Corey and Jessica get the woof whistles from the construction workers that their hearts truly desired?

Whatever your expectations of improvised theatre, The Sparrow Men presented by The Butterfly Club and The Improv Conspiracy provide a joyous frolic down whatever path the audience provides and it’s certainly a show that you could see over and over again.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Wed 28th January and Sunday 1st February 8pm, Thursday 29th to Saturday 31st January 9pm
Tickets: Full $28 | Conc $24
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com/show/the-sparrow-men

REVIEW: Greyhound Hotel and HOLY SHIP! The Stage Show

Camp musical comedy is making waves

By Myron My

Set during the 1920s, Holy Ship! is a loose combination of love story and ode to the perils of being at sea. However, life on board ship and the romance between Bonnie (Danae Vincent) and Charlie (James Traille) is not why we’re here. Holy Ship! is about fun, and with all the songs, dances, burlesque, circus acts, tap dancing and flesh on display, it would be very difficult not to have plenty of it here.

The majority of Holy Ship! is about being camp, naughty and sexy. Yet our narrator and Captain of the ship, Andy Balloch did create a beautiful a cappella moment that really echoed the loneliness of life at sea, and Vincent – in particular – and Traille owned their songs convincingly, and with seemingly little effort.

Holy Ship! 2

Despite these strong voices however, I did feel the ballads were misplaced in this production overall. There is little character development and I found it difficult to care about the central relationship beyond a superficial level, and was eager to return to the cheeky and more dynamic performance elements.

The merman scene for example, performed by Mr. Boylesque 2012 Raven, was a great addition, allowing the show the opportunity to surprise, stun and reel us back in. Furthermore, the tap-dance number, and the silk and the rope routines were nicely spaced-out and offered something different and visually engaging for the audience to enjoy.

Ian Knowles has clearly put in some hard work with the choreography and on the whole, the dancers have great control and remain in perfect rhythm in their Charleston-inspired numbers. As there is not much in terms of set, the atmosphere created by the live band, and the period costuming and make-up allow the speakeasy era to make itself clearly present throughout the show.

Holy Ship! is the largest show in 150 years that the Greyhound Hotel has hosted and it’s easy to see why. There is nothing small about this production: everything is large, loud and showy but more importantly, the show is sexy, enjoyable and fathoms of fun.

Venue: Greyhound Hotel, 1 Brighton Rd, St Kilda

Season: Until 13 July | 8:00pm

Tickets: $35 Full | $25 Conc

Bookings: www.holyshiptix.com & at the door