‘The Big Picture’ review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
With all the summer films being shown in theaters right now, there are lots of options to choose from. Still, if there are no films that you want to see, how about a film that changes with every performance? The Vancouver TheatreSports League’s The Big Picture recreates the experience of a summer blockbuster through a totally improvised film experience. Every performance is a different film, and if you enjoyed the show, you could see it again for a completely different performance.
The first half of the show involves the current players of the league and special guests exploring the world of film. Throughout the show, the audience gives suggestions to the players and they use those suggestions to demonstrate something in a film. For example, an audience member suggested knitting and they used that idea to demonstrate a silent film. Other off-the-wall suggestions included a World War II propaganda film about a war with Jamaica, a 1940s musical called I Ate the Cheese, product placement for Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans, and an independent film about dusting.
Next, they riffed on the five common types of summer films: sci-fi, action, western, romantic comedy, and horror. The improvised romantic comedy involved a date in a museum where the actors had to say lines from text messages in an audience member’s cellphone. For the horror theme, whenever one actor said something, the response had to make the situation worse or better. In the science fiction show, an audience member did sound effects for the actors.
During the intermission, the audience gets to decide which of those five types of film the actors should focus on in the second half of the show. After the intermission at the show I attended, the actors incorporated things from the first half of the show, including the museum from the romantic comedy film and a tumbleweed from the western film.
The final performance was a science fiction film called The Aliens from Earth. In the film, a family’s son was captured by an alien, and two NASA agents disguised as meteorologists went to find him. In one scene, the agents find another NASA agent that they thought was dead; he tells a story about aliens roaming the wild and people trying to catch them with their cellphones—a topical Pokémon Go joke.
If you like summer blockbusters and improv comedy, go see The Big Picture, now playing in The Improv Centre on Granville Island.