The Bear Pack (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

The Bear Pack

A unique improv experience from a duo brimful of comedic chemistry

Steen Raskopoulos and Carlo Ritchie have got it in spades. The exact shape and form that their particular type of magic will take depends totally on the night; every show is entirely improvised, but the chances are it'll be very good. They're an improv duo from Sydney, but both have solo careers too: Raskopoulos does his show The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess every night in the same venue before he puts on literally no costumes and becomes half of the Bear Pack.

There are only two chairs for props, and a live cellist improvising a soundtrack to their real-time, very bizarre storyboarding. The show begins with a shouted-out location from the audience, then the plot derails and reroutes continuously, before they offer a Q&A section at the end in case anyone's bothered by any loose ends needing tied up. Old-fashioned adventure stories are brought to mind with the cast of swashbuckling conquistadors, coy damsels-in-distress and evil-looking children that they produce from thin air. Slow-motion fights, time travel and increasingly ridiculous mime bits show off their odd and impressive skill set; they never run out of ideas of how to paint an absurd twist onto the blank canvas.

Their chemistry is a beautiful, flirty thing to behold; they do that old couple thing of finishing each other's sentences, second guessing their next move … and cruelly forcing the other to sing spontaneously in Finnish as part of a violent scene that's very much run away with itself. The temptation to go back and see them do it all again, but differently, is very strong.

Underbelly Cowgate, until 27 Aug, 10.40pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).

The Bear Pack

  • 4 stars

Fight in the Dog Ltd and Giant Dwarf presents The Bear Pack is Sydney's Steen Raskopoulos (Whose Line Is It Anyway – Australia, BBC's Top Coppers) and Carlo Ritchie (The Checkout, Big Head Mode). Their show is 60 minutes of improvised storytelling. Inspired by your suggestions, the Bear Pack will create the kind of…