Improvabunga!

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Hannah Sanderson

at 12:33 on 23rd Aug 2016

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The amusingly-titled ‘Improvabunga’ claims to provide a ‘unique brand of improv comedy’ and it certainly does just that. Grace Hussey-Burd is an excellent host to this show. She grabs the audience’s attention from the offset and whenever she is on stage it is difficult to drag your eyes away from her commanding performance. Her enormous energy produces excellent suggestions from the audience which in turn creates a hilarious show. She clearly and concisely explains the rules of the game - ensuring that that no-one will be left confused.

Despite being faced with the challenge of setting a gothic horror in the hallowed halls of an abandoned Tesco’s, the cast quickly construct a convincing narrative. An impressive feature is the speed at which they create a coherent narrative. Any minor inconsistencies are covered up quickly by comedy.

At the beginning of the show, the audience are presented with four buttons, each with a different comedic purpose. Hussey-Burd spreads these around the audience, telling the owners that they have one chance to use them so do it wisely. My only other experience of improvised comedy clearly set up opportunities when their props should be used, in this production the buttons are pressed entirely at random. The cast members are not at all intimidated by this concept and on the press of a button they stop what they are doing and perform the task the button calls for. An excellent example of this is when Hannah Sharp had to create a totally improvised song about selling groceries. She leaps at this challenge with commendable panache, producing a highly amusing song that most musicals would be proud to contain.

Will Tuckwell, the pianist, provides excellent atmospheric music throughout and his accompaniment to Sharp’s song is spot on. Another comedic element of the whole production is the cast’s relaxed relationship with their technical director. Marcus Paragpuri shows impressive command over the technical elements of the production and often preempts the cast requests with appropriately amusing lighting. An aspect that is particularly enjoyable is how the cast provide all their own sound effects. A hilarious moment occurs when Tom Ling mimicks shouting down a spiral staircase. This produces a raucous laugh from the audience. The cast’s arbitrary sound effects help to prove just how improvised the whole routine is, and makes the overall effect all the more impressive.

This highly enjoyable show cannot fail to make the audience laugh and I recommend to anyone who enjoys improvised comedy. The cast are clearly very talented and their unfaltering confidence only helps to improve this hilarious show.

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Caragh Aylett

at 22:16 on 23rd Aug 2016

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With the huge amount of improvised theatre (and puns on the word 'improv'), on offer at this year's Fringe, it's difficult to know what's going to be worth your time. ‘Improvabunga’ is most definitely worthwhile. This quick-witted bunch from Birmingham will have you laughing from beginning to end with their sharp stories and silly songs.

The format of the show is quite simple. At first, the group of six performers play various improvised games, such as creating a piece of spoken word on a theme of the audience's choice. This immediately engages the audience, whose participation is natural and successful. The piece then progresses into a more straightforward narrative.

This particular performance combines the horror genre with a supermarket setting, to create the comically named 'Every Little Yelps'. The actors leap at the challenge, and quickly spin an amusing, if somewhat convoluted story line. It is executed well, with different accents and physicality to demonstrate new characters. Indeed, with no costumes and only two chairs for their set, the cast demonstrate both their improvisational and acting talent.

Audience participation is undoubtedly one of the highlights of this show. The cast use four buzzers cleverly, distributing them to audience members which are pressed to make the cast either slap, kiss, sing a song or – most amusingly - turn the scene into a movie trailer. This really works, engaging even the youngest members of the audience. Other Fringe shows take note: ‘Improvabunga’ is a lesson in how to involve audiences without awkwardness or imposition.

'Improvabunga' is neither a thought-provoking nor particularly profound piece of theatre; nevertheless, the troupe’s skill cannot be denied. This is a creative cast with an exceptional ability to form diverse plots from minimal audience suggestion. It is certainly one of the best improvisation pieces in Edinburgh this summer.

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