EFR - Reviews of Emblem: Spontaneous Thoughts on Perception - Free

Emblem: Spontaneous Thoughts on Perception - Free

Sun 14th – Sat 20th August 2011

reviews

Fen Greatley

at 13:07 on 17th Aug 2011

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Having chatted briefly to one of this team of improverts in the minutes before the show, the Cardiffian funnymen and -women seem perfectly likeable, and I found that they've been together and doing this for a few years. I got a strong vibe that they're very close friends, which reassured me. Misleadingly.

Unfortunately, any dynamic that they have as a group does not come across on stage at all. This 'improvised comedy' show was not a show at all, since that would suggest some kind of rehearsed material or at least coordinated intention. Instead, what I was forced to bear witness to for a whole hour was an entirely unstructured group of people talking over one another and ignoring the audience completely. They might as well have been at home having a discussion.

It was almost unreal. They just stood there lazily, scratching their heads, clustered around a giant notepad. Despite repeated promises of hilarity and awesomeness, nothing came: it simply was not comedy, but people saying “Yeah... yeah, that'd be good” as they talked about what might make an ideal library (the one random word of audience input before they turned around and literally shut us out).

There was a man sitting in the corner, seemingly in possession of some sort of attention deficit disorder, who simply strummed tunelessly one a guitar throughout and made strange percussion noises like some kind of twelve year old in a music class. He even had to be reprimanded by one of the cast on stage with a thunderous look.

Predominantly on display was a lack of confidence and competence. The techniques were bad and most of what they said was strange, barely coherent English – they mostly can't think on their feet, failing to string together sentences, let alone sketches. I could visibly perceive the awkwardness as 'off-stage' members cringed at what some of their friends were doing.

Scenes went on for too long, such as a weird attempt at translating, a bit like Chinese Whispers, that made no sense and simply wasn't funny. Whenever anything vaguely humourous was managed, it was simply abandoned or sabotaged by a heavy-handed off-stage member.

Despite this being a Free Fringe show, I felt cheated out of an hour of my life. Never have I ever wanted to leave a show so much, wondering what I'd done to deserve this and praying for redemption. Black t-shirt deserves commendation for his attempts at marshalling the others and being vaguely funny, while Orange t-shirt was quite witty at points. This group needs to sit down and work out methods, and simply make sure that they're reading from the same page in terms of what it's acceptable to do on stage.

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David Knowles

at 13:07 on 20th Aug 2011

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I wrote in an earlier review that the Free Fringe was hit and miss. This show by Cardiff’s Ludus Ludius Improvisation Company is so wide of the mark even David Batty would be embarrassed (if you don’t know who David Batty is or why he should be embarrassed here is a helpful link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viJD5-6F8GU).

In fact, it was so poor I am not really taking any pleasure in writing this article. I feel like a vet putting down a child’s favourite rabid dog. As I have also written before however, it is one thing to say something is bad another to explain why. So I will attempt to list the reasons.

The chorus are not; funny, quick, witty, imaginative or competent actors. The sketches are; long, painful, entirely without comedic value and baffling. What was particularly painful was to realise that the actors themselves actually found what they were doing

HILARIOUS. That was awkward. At one point the poor suffering friend (who will never, it seems, accompany me out again) made the point that if the group were attempting to put on a mick-take of other godawful improvised comics (a la ‘The Office’, and if you do not know what is funny about the office here is another helpful link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCPAxs13OcA) it would be utterly amazing. I would recommend that the troupe also watch this clip carefully and take many notes.

One particularly wonderful part of the show was the random inclusion of a guitarist who sat by the side of the stage and attempted to underscore the action with rhythms and melodies. I’m not sure if he realises how much worse he made every non-joke by attempting to emphasise its ‘hilarity’. That leads me on to state that Phillip Glass is a fantastic composer, do listen, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNXaQFP5amE.

In short then; please Ludus Ludius (which does sound like a really awful spell; maybe one uses it to suck the humour out of any situation?) do not bring back any comedy to the fringe. Or if you decide to, please include some jokes (even one would be lovely) next time.

I realise how horrible this will have been to read so here is one last link to some happy music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlBiLNN1NhQ.

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