Tenuous Link Productions presents a thrilling, crafty and hilarious hour of entertainment, showcasing the talent of the Adelaide improv scene. (Image source: A Total Cop Out! Adelaide Fringe)

By Michelle Wakim | @MichelleWakim

A Total Cop Out! is not only an improvised performance from South Australian theatre company Tenuous Link Productions, but a collaboration between audiences and performers.

Before entering the theatre, each audience member is asked to offer suggestions for a crime, a location, and an expert in any field; immediately, ticketholders know they are in for an evening of surprises.

Once seated, the audience choose from the list of suggestions they put forward when entering. On this specific evening, an unlicensed train driver (crime), Munich (location), and an English Professor (expert) were selected. These details form the narrative for the show ahead.

Audience contribution is a charming addition to A Total Cop Out! as each show becomes a unique experience: an experience shared only by the people in this space, on this specific night.

By placing the storyline in the audience’s hands, the actors are vulnerable as they discover the show alongside their viewers. However, the sympathetic nerves audiences have for the cast swiftly dissolve, as the members of Tenuous Links Productions embrace the show with unwavering confidence.

The success of A Total Cop Out can be largely attributed to the ensemble’s cohesion. They know and trust each other’s abilities, share fantastic comedic instincts, and make timely, inoffensive references that appeal to wide audiences. The performers’ willingness to poke fun at themselves is also a key source of laughter. 

The Coleridge room at The Duke of Brunswick is an ideal venue for A Total Cop Out!. The exposed brick, decorated with yellow crime scene tape, mirrors the raw nature of an improv production, and creates a homely, intimate mood within the space.

Minimal props sit upon the raised stage. A hat rack is stage-right, holding an eclectic mix of hats and costumes; the cast use these liberally to distinguish between characters while simultaneously adding humour. Further, chairs are used creatively to establish settings and levels on-stage. 

When watching A Total Cop Out!, a great deal of pleasure arises from the fact audiences know this performance is only for them and that it will not be replicated. The fleeting nature of this production, paired with brave comedic talent, makes for a wonderful evening of non-stop laughs.

A Total Cop Out! is playing at The Duke of Brunswick from Friday March 5 to Sunday March 8 2021.