Reviewed by Rebecca Stubbing.

Friday the 13th was the perfect occasion for NO SLEEP, a joyfully chaotic improv show presented at this year’s New Zealand Improv Festival.

The show began at 9:30pm on the wonderful Stage at BATS Theatre, and the slightly sleepy audience were immediately reassured by the performers not to worry, we were all here at the theatre for a sleepover and we could now chill out in the company of friends.

Victoria Mae Watson Sepejak and Chantal Lim have travelled all the way from Toronto, Canada to present their double-act show here in Pōneke, adding some international flair to the lineup of the Improv Festival. The pair made a jaunty entrance to the stage wearing cosy looking pyjamas and opened the show by declaring how tired they were.

Improv fans will be no stranger to the format of their show, which involved Lim and Sepejak taking turns telling true monologues, and then performing scenes inspired by the monologue. Perhaps it’s their Canadian improv training, or perhaps it was the fact that it was, as they declared, “4:30am our
time”, but the scenes were energetic, playful, and not like any improv I’ve seen before.

They truly lived up to the promise of a fun sleepover with friends, as the connection between Lim and Sepejak shone through the whole performance. They were extremely in tune with one another, and would pick up on small moments of comedy within scenes, and draw them out into longer
games. As an audience member at an improv show, the vibes between performers are always really key to your enjoyment of the show, and the real-life friendship between this pair was evident throughout and provided the warm heart of the show.

Even in the scene in which they played a mother and daughter who kept pranking each other with ketchup into thinking the other was terribly
injured, somehow Lim and Sepejak kept the audience on their side.

For a show with only two performers on stage, they did well to fill up the space, utilising the back doors, the stairs, and even crawling all around the ground at various points in the show. As the halfway mark was passed, you could see the jet-lag starting to settle in a little bit, with both Lim and Sepejak starting to accidentally walk into the wooden boxes on stage with increasing
frequency. They covered up each one either in-world or by breaking the 4th wall and bringing the audience in on the joke. The boxes ended up being almost the third performer in the show.

All in all, NO SLEEP was exactly what you’re looking for in a late night improv show. It was fun, it was silly, and it was all about friendship.