Unique brand of theatre

By David Stephens, Pix by M.A Pushpa Kumara

Over a month of quick-fire stage comedy and the moment had finally come; the season finale of ‘Act Before You Think’. The crowd, which bore in equal measure a mixture of new and past attendees, waited expectantly. Then that expectation was raised to a fever pitch as Osama’s Bush, The Wasps and The Next Big Thing strode calmly onto the stage and effortlessly proceeded to entertain with their impromptu acting.

The Mind Adventures Theatre Company, the think tank which concocted the show (which is loosely based on the American television show ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’) had pulled out all the stops for the finals. The most impressive of these, going by the loud applause and unrestrained shouts of appreciation, was the acquirement of one of Sri Lankan drama’s most influential personalities - Indu Dharmasena, on board the judging triumvirate that was completed by house judge Richard Simon and first timer Neluka Silva.

The Wasps, the first team that stepped up to test this panel, had subconsciously been tagged as the favorites. Unfortunately they were unable to match the dizzying heights of creativity that they attained in their earlier round, which was not entirely disappointing considering that even on a bad day they had the capability of upstaging any team in the competition.

That said, their opening game, in which they had to enact a wedding scene with a heavy metal tinge elicited endless roars of laughter from the candid crowd. The standout throughout the performance was Sean Amarasekera, who portrayed the rage filled, death metal priest to perfection.

Following them was Osama’s Bush, doing a gospel version of a zombie attack. Gihan Dias took the reins as the frenzied evangelical pastor who kept thumping each of the zombies with a Halleluah! Asanga ‘Chicky’ Ratnayake turned a bit cheeky himself, administering on his zombie teammate Jehan Mendis, what (putting it innocently) could best be described as a baptism by fire.

The last team to step up for the first round, The Next Big Thing, was tasked with dealing with an oncoming asteroid except they had to do so using a country theme. All four of them tried energetically but failed to pull the audience into their performance, a fact reflected by a stinging Richard Simon swipe which harshly challenged them to improve.

This they did, particularly during a game called Remote Control where the teams had to act out a scene which was routinely paused, fast forwarded and rewound. The scene was from a satirical take on Bridget Jones’ Diary titled Bridget Jones’ Diarrhea.

Louisa Mundo played the role of the afflicted Bridget Jones humorously and her teammates Dilsiri Welikala, Ajith Ranasinghe and Inaya Bongso did a fantastic job in supporting her by acting in time with the remote.

Osama’s Bush in turn saw their finest performance of the night come in a game where they had to act out a cooking show. The game was for two members, one to play the role of the chef who would identify each individual ingredient that went into the dish, while the other stood behind him and acted as his hands. In one instance the duo of Asanga and Gihan momentarily impaled compeer Brandon Ingram, catching him smack dab in the face with a splash of EGB.

By this time however The Wasps had a solid hold over proceedings and had been extremely convincing in a game centering around a therapy session where Dominic Kellar played a psychiatrist who had to decipher his patients’ afflictions, including that of Imani Perera, who boldly proceeded to plait his chest hair amidst the crowd’s delirious laughter. Andre Perera, who was acting as a patient prone to constant disagreement, also came into his own, shouting out frantically in refusal whenever Dominic attempted to initiate any dialogue.

Predictably at the end of the night The Wasps walked home the outright winners with a tally of 127 points to Osama’s Bush’s 98 and The Next Big Thing’s 86. However by the end of the competition, winning and losing seemed inconsequential. It was all about enjoying a unique brand of theatre that is sure to continue providing people with an immense amount of entertainment.

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