From the start the atmosphere was decidedly unusual for something described as improv. Gary Kitching immediately set the audience at ease, but did not disperse the tension filling the room. Theatrical improvisation can be hard to describe as in all likelihood the show seen one night may not resemble another night’s performance at all. Gary Kitching combines audience participation and a performance from a slightly terrifying Ventriloquist dummy to create a theatrical piece that is both comedic and tragic by turns. The overall effect was somewhat like depressing ad-lib theatre yet was still somehow entertaining.
What was slightly confusing is that the audience was never entirely certain if they were watching a comedy or tragedy. Kitching did a fantastic job of drawing the audience in, creating a casual and comfortable atmosphere, and then shocking the audience out of this zone. Even moments with his friend the dummy, which verged on becoming cringe-worthy, were transformed into something more meaningful that was a bizarre combination of heart wrenching, ridiculous, and slightly creepy.
Audience participation was limited, but highly encouraged. Members contributed pieces of advice and objects of sentimental value. At one point Kitching even requested hecklers. Don’t worry; they were part of the scene, not a reflection on the performance. The audience was happy to join in and Kitching’s use of the unexpected outcomes worked out surprisingly well. He possesses fantastic comedic timing that doesn’t push too hard for laughter, but is able to squeeze it out anyway. He treads the fine line between alienation and empathy with both tact and skill. The overall performance is both strange and strangely brilliant by turn.