Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a show playing at the Brisbane Comedy Festival. Once the show gets started it's very funny with talented comedy improvisers in the cast. If they pull you out of the audience you may have to perform along with them. What do you do? What do you do?
Wallflowers and introverts need not be scared though at such a prospect. ‘Speed: The Movie, The Play’ is a lot of fun and the more shy among us can simply decline to get pulled into a scene. However it is difficult to resist the opportunity to help Keanu diffuse bombs, battle evil villains and get behind the wheel of a vintage Brisbane City Council bus maintained by Queensland Omnibus & Coach Society.
Created by Act/React years ago, the show was the first of the theatre company’s reinventions of classic blockbusters, this one being the 1994 Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock actioner ‘Speed’.
Act/React seeks to play out the story with homemade props, meta dialogue, audience interactions and ensuing hilarity.
There is a certain charm in getting on a real bus and having it shake and bounce as you weave through LA traffic parked outside the Powerhouse. By packing the audience together on this sole vehicle of transport, it is understood intrinsically we’re all in this together and the school kid wanting to have a bit of fun comes out in even the most mature audience member.
Even more admirably, the performers aren’t resting on the established reputation of the company or the show. With it running almost every night they’re giving it their all, playing with whatever the audience hands them, cracking grins every now and then in spite of themselves because, well, the show is just fun to be a part of.
Cast members including co-writer Natalie Bochenski, Scott Driscoll, Elizabeth Best, Ellen Hardisty and Damien Campagnolo all perform with aplomb. Natalie maybe the only person who can get a crowd cheering on a bad pun. Yet if praise has to be singled out it may go to Daren King who here emanates a relaxed and commanding comedic presence as lead Keanu.
The most important performers of such shows remain the audience and, expertly spurned on by the encouraging and amusing cast and surrounded by immersive and charming production values, they can’t help but have a great night out.
‘Speed: The Movie, The Play’ plays Brisbane Powerhouse until 22 March.