1 October 2010
The Loft Fringe hub
A scruffy man hands me a business card. It says: One briefcase. No memory. Three rules. Haven't you always wanted to write a TV show?
Yes I have.
McGuffin was a seven-episode Aussie TV drama series, but it was like watching TV in a time before re-runs and VCRS – miss it and it's gone. This was TV on stage and it was improvised.
Ben McKenzie and his company Shaolin Punk call it hybrid improvised theatre. The structure of each episode was created in advance, but the dialogue, character development and plot were created on the night by the performers, the directors (McKenzie and Sean Fabri) and the audience – who were asked to suggest the pivotal turning points and reveals for each episode.
I only saw the last episode, but – like any good telly story telling – I was hooked into the mystery of the Sanchez Cross and those who sought it. It was a bit like the Da Vinci Code meets Dr Who and Offspring.
Fabri was joined on stage by Gina Morley, Chris Broadstock and Kate O'Neill, who know the rules and style of TV storytelling so well that they must spend many wonderful house on the couch watching the box.
McGuffin was far from slick high art, but it was never meant to be. It was a lot of fun (for the creators and the audience) and the next time they do a series, I'd try to be there from episode 1.
The TV show is over, but Shaolin Punk are presenting three performances of Dungeon Crawl at the Fringe. Impro Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, it will be geeky.