Guns Ablaze

Mon 10th – Thu 27th August 2015


Catherine Crook

at 10:44 on 18th Aug 2015



Guns Ablaze is advertised as ‘fifty minutes of fast-paced, on the spot mayhem,’ and it certainly stuck to its brief. An improvised comedy show that draws on recognisable settings of school, workplace, and street, the Southampton Outtakes provided a whistle-stop tour between the mundane, weird and wonderful in a way that can only be described as frenzied.

Drawing on an assortment of well-known figures, such as Taylor Swift, Russell Brand, and of course, the Illuminati, Guns Ablaze created an variety of scenes, such as a cocktail-making class full of Alcoholics Anonymous members, and a household wherein a progressive set of parents are happy to dismember their child in order for her to ‘fit in’ at school. If these sound a little too grotesque or far-fetched for your liking, the show’s impetus on audience interaction gives you the power to change it. When one audience member mentioned her love of Taylor Swift, Taylor became a character in the fiction they were creating, weaving her in to almost every subsequent scene.

Aniruddh Ojita and Gracie Roach were two standout performers; they were consistently rapid on the uptake and funny in their comic timing, possessing a wealth of accents between them. The rest of the performers lacked the same intuition with their audience, but still provided a strong ensemble that worked well with each other, and their compatibility with each other on stage contributed to the sharp delivery and quick changing of setting.

Some of the features of the show lacked polish, such as its structure; although fitting the spirit of ‘mayhem’ they sought to create, there were moments where it was unclear just how many people had been enlisted to be in this particular scene. Although Guns Ablaze prides itself on telling ‘tall tales that are spun and steered hilariously out of control’, being slightly more in control and maybe, stepping out of the fast-paced mode for just a moment, would have led to an overall more comprehensible, polished piece.

As a show that was part of the Free Fringe, it was definitely an enjoyable way to spend an evening for minimum cost. Overall, Guns Ablaze was a fun, fast-paced piece of student improvised comedy with a lot of potential – even if, for me, the ‘mayhem’ was at times a little too chaotic.


Jenny Burton

at 10:53 on 18th Aug 2015



Southampton’s improv troupe, Soton Outtakes, took to Sportsters Bar to present a 45 minute whirlwind of comedy and improvisation. Standing out from the improv crowd is difficult at the Fringe, but the six members of the team, in their words, took us on a ‘rip-roaring improvised adventure’ and certainly left the audience laughing out the door. Part of PBH’s Free Fringe, Guns Ablaze joins almost 500 other shows in allowing the audience to contribute their desired amount to the show afterwards, rather than paying a hefty ticket price just to get in.

Sticking to short scenes involving usually around two or three actors, rather than the Who’s Line is it Anyway? style games, Guns Ablaze managed to remain funny for the majority of its stage time, and luckily the performers were able to call scene when things began to drag.

Audience participation was used cleverly, and although they were not used for inspiration for the majority of scenarios, an interview-style scene in which Aniruddh Ojha asks a member of the audience to come on stage and then asks him or her questions in a flamboyant manner offers stimulation for the proceeding jokes. One interview with a man who had broken his shoulder in a snowboarding accident in France led to a hilarious scene set in an estate where the skateboarders mock the snowboarders for their lack of wheels (and perhaps the lack of snow). A second interview with a Taylor Swift fan led to the blonde celebrity becoming the centre of attention, with a host of jokes involving her song titles. The troupe’s ability to continually refer back to these previous jokes was used cleverly and to great comedic effect. The performers convinced their viewers that they were spontaneous and able to interpret the ideas thrown at them.

The performances weren’t flawless, but Gracie Roach’s flair with accents, and brilliant portrayal of a mother desperate for her daughter to be cool stood out as a solid performance. Ojha’s quick wit (and charming accent) saw the most laughs and Robbie’s Smith’s Clint certainly had me in stitches.

Although perhaps Guns Ablaze was aided by the late performance time, and therefore the inebriation of its audience members, it is certainly worth a trip if you fancy a chuckle (especially as it doesn’t have to cost you a penny).


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