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Steen Raskopolous: The Coolest Kid In Competitive Chess (SCF)

23 May 2017 | 10:52 am | Sam Baran

"If rivetingly clever audience involvement is something you love to watch, you can't do much better."

Steen Raskopolous, one-half of Sydney's celebrated comedy duo The Bear Pack, is a master of interactive storytelling. Casting about the audience, he picks a few (fortunate or unfortunate) souls to join him up on stage at Giant Dwarf. Steen has the guise of a game show host walking his audience through to the big pay-off at the end of every scene - smooth, engaging, and utterly charming.

The Coolest Kid in Competitive Chess has two elements which make it so memorable. The first is Steen himself. His expressive face and masterful physicality when miming out actions injects a tinge of pathos into every character, leading to a captive audience awwing along in genuine sympathy less than a minute into a scene. The second is continuity. Steen weaves and intertwines each separate storyline together in clever, unexpected ways. Audience members — once summoned — are brought back time and again for increasingly hilarious scenes.

So much of what the audience sees is improvised, and Steen's creativity in taking what they invent and running with it marks him as a considered, quick-thinking comedian. It's hard to imagine a more madcap, uproarious performance than when one poor man from the crowd is forced to describe how he would do better at an HR meeting using interpretative dance. If rivetingly clever audience involvement is something you love to watch, you can't do much better than The Coolest Kid In Competitive Chess.

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