Cast your mind back to the late nineties and early two thousands, when you were probably still in school and making chatterboxes. That mind-casting is the premise of Who We Were – the first sketch show devised by improv troupe Hit by a Blimp. It’s a fun, nostalgic hour or so of pop culture references and powerpoint presentations.
The three performers play Max, Katie & Emma, (pre)teens at the dawn of the internet age. With a loose ‘time capsule’ conceit, the trio guide the audience through the recent past. There is a kind of leap-frogging through all the intense emotions of that age, but the whole show is buoyed by childlike joy. The performers’ awkward physicality really sells them as members of that strange age bracket, an effect heightened by the contrast of young adults in school uniforms. The delivery of each joke and reference is spot on; the players bring just the right amount of hazy mumbling to their slide shows, flailing limbs to their dance numbers, and sing-screeching to their parody songs. The sound effects are used to good effect without being overbearing, and there is a delightful parade of props throughout each sketch.
The only real negative in the show was its final scene. Returning to the present day, the three old friends are some how simultaneously just saying hello for the first time in years and going through a box filled with items from their childhood – something that surely wouldn’t happen until at least fifteen minutes into to the reunion. It’s a small and nitpicky criticism, which speaks to the strength of the show.
Who We Were is on at the Improv Conspiracy Headquarters as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Tickets range between $12 and $18, and are available online and at the door. Tonight (Friday the 23rd of September) is their final show, so get down there for a 7:45pm start!