REVIEW: Lust Island (Auckland Fringe)

Review by Jess Macdonald

[Keep on Pulling the Laughs]

Dressed in lurid summer clothes, nine Lust Island revellers drink and dance to chart hits as audience members fill the Basement main stage.

The performance kicks off as Heartthrobs Comedy producer/director and MC Brynley Stent steps up and explains the format of the hour long improvised show, which is based on the controversial reality TV programme Love Island

A lone voice exposes himself as uninitiated into the world of improv and laughter quickly follows – it’s clear the rest of the audience know what to expect from the motley crew before them and are eager to get stuck in to the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants comedy.

The cast, made up of nine members from the rotating cast of twenty, each take an audience-suggested character trait from Brynley and faces drop as the improvisers read from scraps of paper. Scrambling to adjust their material to ‘sweaty AF,’ ‘John Campbell’ and ‘picks her nose and eats it,’ the performers rise to the challenge. 

The cast introduce themselves in character; a vast array of UK accents adds to the comedy – and, impressively, they rarely waver throughout the performance. 

Vignettes start midway through after a ‘coupling,’ and there’s trouble in paradise. 

‘Wino’ (Emma Newborn) needs alcohol but, as her partner David (Chelsea McEwan Millar) awkwardly explains, the producers don’t provide it in case they get too ‘lairy.’

‘DeMarkus from Great Britain’ (Kura Forester) is turned on by the phrase Lust Island, unable to resist undercover feminist Tammy (Ella Hope-Higgenson) whenever she wields the word. Then Arsehole Terry (Lana Walters) lives up to his name and wants to couple up with polyamorous new Irish girl Sorcha (Bronwyn Ensor), much to his girl Cindy’s frustrations (Catherine Yates). 

Taking an instant dislike to her, the girls plot to lock her up – and hope their lads don’t notice, and ‘pull them for a chat.’

Meanwhile, John Campbell (Freya Finch) – a Glaswegian with a thick accent – struggles to stay on the same page as Essex-girl Salsa (Johanna Cosgrove) who is ‘like the dance and like the dip.’ John has a lot of issues bubbling beneath the surface… the unexpected death of his mum has led to a penchant for collecting weapons, and he’s hidden his knife collection in the ‘Lust Island Library.’  

‘Lad’ DeMarkus is the only one concerned when ‘Search-a’ goes missing and is the unexpected hero of the hour, thanks to some fire-warden quick-thinking.

Stand out comedic performances embody the Love Island stereotypes to near-perfection – namely from DeMarkus, Terry and John Campbell – but the entire cast works together as a team to create a cohesive and entertaining story. 

A kind of art you rarely see, Lust Island‘s comedy improv was even more captivating as car-crash, cringe-worthy humour than the original TV show… and that’s a testament to the performers. Always keeping the chat going, this was improv comedy dialogue at its finest. 

Head down to the Basement to catch another night of the side-splitting satire before they sell out. 

Lust Island plays Basement Theatre as part of Auckland Fringe 3-7 March, 2020. 

Lust Island has a rotating cast of: Alice Canton (co-director), Alice Connolley, Amanda Grace Leo, Bronwyn Ensor, Brynley Stent (producer/director/performer), Bryony Skillington, Catherine Yates, Chelsea McEwan Millar, Ella Hope-Higgenson, Emma Newborn, Freya Finch, Johanna Cosgrove, Kura Forrester, Lana Walters, Lee Smith-Gibbons, Liv Parker, Liv Mackenzie, Maria Williams, Rhiannon McCall (co-director), Yvette Parsons.

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