REVIEW: Improvement Club

Have you always wanted to be the best you can be? Meet with like minded people and form firm friendships? Do you need to change? Then you should join Improvement Club – the only club like it in the world! Written and Directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler of The Last Great Hunt, Improvement Club takes you on a wild journey that’s part Sliding Doors, part Being John Malkovich – and all brilliant.

Everyman Ash (Chris Isaacs) is lonely. He works all day in an office and waits to pounce eagerly upon his co-worker (Mararo Wangai) and press gang him into joining his new club. Improvement Club is a way for him to get out and about in the world and stop being so lonely. Fowler’s writing is what we’ve come to expect from him – witty and snappy with a hyper-real sensibility. Each actor speaks in sync with one another and collaborate to finish each other’s sentences. It cleverly dissects language and how even the way we speak can be improved upon.

Improvement_Club_ Chris Isaacs, Arielle Gray. Photo credit Daniel James Grant-05

Arielle Gray is brilliant as Ash’s therapist/girlfriend/mother – she blurs the line between all three characters by only changing in dialogue. By keeping her mannerisms (bar the sexual stuff) the same, she creates a complex character that really keeps you guessing. Are we all just programmed to be a certain way? Improvement Club takes on multiple forms – from ultra-sexy, streamlined spies, to hippy vegans who refuse to hold onto possessions. Each manifestation of the club accentuates a part of the world that probably needs improving or is at least an on-trend topic.

Using a simple set of cardboard petitions painted in subdued blues, reds and whites, the stage remains a blank canvas. The petitions serve as office walls, corridors, hivelike divisions in a commune – anything they need to be. Just as the script itself is hyper-real so too is the experience – as the ensemble cast all walk back and forth between the petitions, Isaacs is thrown into a dreamlike, Brechtian world where the absurd is given free reign. There is a wonderful sense of humanity in Isaac’s portrayal of Ash – you empathise with him as an outsider and just want him to catch a break.

Improvement Club is a memorable and intelligent show that breaks down our relationship with each other and how we can try to change the world – even if it seems like we’re just better dressed primitive beings on a high tech planet.

Review | Laura Money

WHEN: 27 June – 7 July 2018 | 7:30pm

WHERE: Rehearsal Room 1 | State Theatre Centre WA | PERTH

INFO: Tickets $22 – $28 | Duration 70 mins | Suitable 15+ | Coarse language | Adult themes | Wheelchair accessible






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