The Old 505 Theatre
342 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills
Season: 5 - 10 May (8pm May 8-9, 7pm May 10)
In spite of the name, The Jetpack Collective’s Grim is sure to brighten your spirits. A clever amalgamation of devised and improvised theatre, Grim is well worth the five flights of stairs you must climb to reach the theatre! Two men tackle themes rich in comedic potential, Grim spans life, death, hopelessness and bloodlust in the form of multiples sketches – all with the mind of bargaining with the embodiment of Death himself.
The Jetpack Collective is a young theatre company, emerging as a group of friends and passionate artists looking for a platform to experiment and create. Considering the relatively limited opportunity for new dramatists to break into the Sydney theatre scene, The Old 505 Theatre forms an ideal performance space for the Collective, with Grim taking the first spot in The Old 505’s 2015 Fresh Works season. The Old 505 is housed in the same building as the Hibernian House and possesses the same quirk and charm, ever enhancing your night at the theatre.
The performance was carried by two artists, Jim Fishwick and Robert Boddington, flourishing due to their apt improvisational skills. I have been led to believe that a great majority of the sketches are improvised within an overarching dramatic structure of the piece, and thus change drastically every night. This is an exhilarating creative environment to enter into, never knowing what the artists will offer next, accordingly producing the outright weird and the hilariously wonderful. Extensive experience and ease with improvisational technique is evident in Fishwick and Boddington’s performance. Pleasingly, the pair didn’t resort to base sources of humour that unfortunately so often features in improvisational work, displaying true skill in their craft. An array of characterisations and accent work were exhibited over the course of the sketches, and consistency maintained well considering the quick transitions necessary. One personal highlight was Boddington’s portrayal of an entire mafia mob, in the same scene. The duo has a strong rapport and use this to their advantage, quickly yielding to each other’s offers to propel the sketch in whatever amusing direction they are so inclined. The performers fill the theatre space with great energy, bringing The Old 505 to life. This is framed by a simple and effective set, designed by Kirsty Mcguire and Stephanie Bennett, setting an intriguing ambience that could accommodate any scenario.
Last night I set off to the theatre feeling a little grim after a lousy day. The show provided just what the doctor ordered, filled to the brim with wacky comedy that kept me laughing throughout. This first show of the Fresh Works Season is characterised by an innovative concept of a theatrical show, kept perpetually fresh by the new ideas that bound onto the stage each night through masterful improvisation. The Jetpack Theatre Collective’s Grim brings great hope to Sydney’s theatrical and artistic future, illustrating that there’s much more to be explored on the stage. Although I can’t possibly predict what will materialise in the improvised sketches to come… I can make a pretty good bet that you’ll have a ball.