The Improverts

Wed 3rd – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Richard Birch

at 02:34 on 11th Aug 2016

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A fixture of the Edinburgh Fringe, the Improverts (through numerous name changes and even more numerous line-up changes) have been a mainstay of the Bedlam Theatre Venue over their 27 years of existence. This disused church has been transformed into a heaving comedy centre, the bar bristling (to excess, in truth) every night of the Fringe – as this troupe performs every night, at 12:30, for the entire duration of the festival.

A series of sketches/ games in the mode of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, the show is essentially an interactive comedy experience – asking audience members to intervene, suggest objects to commence sketches and even to direct the genre of the scene that they are about to watch.

‘Should’ve said’ is one notable example of audience intervention. The audience chimes in ‘Should’ve said’ whenever the improvised scripting is not up to their standard. Involving the audience so immersively in the comedy is by no means an original concept; yet the degree to which The Improverts successfully execute it makes the evening a raucous and joyous example of the genre at its best.

Unfortunately, the consistency is not maintained throughout – some sketches fall relatively flat. The high quality of this show’s peaks make the troughs seem all the worse - even if they are only bad when considered in comparison. To this reviewer, the ‘Holiday Photo’ sketch is of a lesser quality, running on for too long for its comedic value. The audience's silence is certainly noticeable, as they are in uproarious laughter for the rest of the show.

This, however, only briefly marred the performance, being a weaker version of the same style of comedy as the ‘Alien Interview’ played earlier in the show. Bizarrely, two people pretend to be a two-headed alien, saying each sentence word by word, switching from head to head. The comedy ensues from each actor never knowing what the other will say, thus providing comic tension from second to second. Each sentence has the audience in stitches, always a good sign for an improvisation troupe such as this.

It is, all in all, a very enjoyable hour of improvised comedy. Though different every night in terms of the players and the scenes enacted, this reviewer has every faith that the show will only get funnier from night to night.

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Caragh Aylett

at 14:40 on 11th Aug 2016

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'The Improverts' are well established in Edinburgh, performing every night of the fringe and every Friday during term time. The Edinburgh University students are well practiced in improvisation and their half past midnight performance was energetic and funny.

The performance consists of a series of improv games which are executed by a group of wonderful actors. Their quick wit and ability to anticipate what each other are going to do forms an impressive performance and there are certainly parts where it is easy to forget that it is improvised. However, there are some weak parts where it appears that the actors are unsure of what to do and in these places I felt slightly uncomfortable and unsure that they would be able to think of something. Luckily, these moments are quickly overshadowed by other moments of genius but the performance certainly does peak and trough.

The audience interaction is natural and successful. Asking the audience to shout out ‘one object you might find in a house’, amongst other things, allows interaction without over complication. It also reflects a decision to not single out any audience members which prevents any awkward audience conversation. Indeed, it becomes obvious how comfortable the audience are when a man on the front row joins in the final improv game.

It would be impossible to write a review without mentioning the technical team. While the actors are improving so too are the tech team, quickly making lighting states effective as well as choosing appropriate songs to play in between improvisation games. Their ability to anticipate the end of the scene and to change the lights at exactly the right moment really was impressive.

'The Improverts' is a funny, successful and well performed improvisation piece. It doesn’t offer anything different to any other improvisation performances and while gaining laughs it is not particularly memorable. However, it is light and funny and a wonderful way to spend an evening at the Fringe.

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