By Lisa Allan

Rik Brown and Christine Brooks in Museum of Broken Relationships. Photo by Doug Barry-Martin.

Somewhere in the world there is a place where relationship detritus goes to rest. In this place, objects from broken relationships are collected and put on display. This place is the Museum of Broken Relationships.


The concept is indeed rich fodder for an improvised theatre show, many stories waiting to be told.

Before the show starts the audience members, who are eager to enter the Refinery Theatre, are canvassed. They offer up a list of items that they have kept after a relationship has dissolved. And from this, the creativity begins!

On-the-spot similes gush forth as experienced improvisors Christine Brooks and Rik Brown pull the audience offerings from a hat. A relationship is like a… insert random object and funny justification here. Brooks and Brown are quick and they fire through a handful of objects each. The show starts with a laugh and thusly are we are eased into the realm of broken relationships.

The show consists of a series of scenes, each inspired by one of the audience’s objects- duct tape, an ipod shuffle, a son and a cat called Miss Venezuela.

Brooks and Brown take these offers and create a plethora of different characters in different situations. Beautiful details spring forth as the minds of these two improvisors meet and original stories are imagined into existence for the crowd’s enjoyment. And much enjoyment was had! The audience laughed as a tiara was added to a shelf of tiaras, they laughed as they realised the irony of a scene about packing into the Nelson Fringe, they laughed as Hamilton became the capital of performance poetry and then there was the staggered laughter of disbelief as Brown served up dog soup. These moments and more united strangers though laughter.

After a diverse collection of scenes, I was surprised when we returned to the first scene. Although I am familiar with this format and enjoy it very much, for some reason I wasn’t expecting it. Perhaps because the scenes weren’t left as obvious ‘cliffhangers’ and could happily have been self-contained. But I got over that pretty quickly and got back to enjoying seeing two professionals excelling in their field and making the world a better place through creativity!

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