Here Be Improv

Mon 13th – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

Tara Snelling

at 09:26 on 22nd Aug 2018

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The mesh of improv comedy with a medieval theme seems like a rogue combination, and I’m pleasantly surprised by how well the two gel together. The cast of ‘Here Be Improv’ take to the stage donned in colourful tunics, and led by “the jester”, Jordon Montgomery. Featuring medieval themed spins of classic improv games I’m only familiar with from YouTube clips of ‘Whose Line’, we dive into games like ‘Banquet’ - the same concept as ‘Party Quirks’ in which three guests unknown to the host enter the room, and their identities must be guessed.

‘Banquet’ in fact turns out to be one of my favourites, and Nathan Tommis plays a great ‘Frankenstein’. He is prepared to twist the ‘and yes’ rule a little - calling out the improbabilities and impracticalities of the world just enough so that it’s funny, but not enough so it’s a cheap laugh which kills the game. The compere does a great job of structuring the games, and really warms up as the show goes on – Montgomery is at her best when she relaxes more into the ask of keeping the ball rolling.

Perhaps what I loved most about this troop was the allowance for players besides the emcee to change up the games – for example, Eleanor Diggle stepping up to add even more humour as a fourth surprise guest at the banquet, and assist with the guessing process.

However, the set up of the show detracted a little, and potentially affected, the performance itself. The quietness of the piano – potentially a technical error or the product of a necessary quick venue change – and lack of transitional music left the show feeling a little less energetic. The pianist, however, did do a fantastic job of flavouring the scenes with music to suit the seat - it’s just a shame that rows further back couldn’t hear this music as well, or it couldn’t be played at the pounding volume usually used by improv groups to amp up the performance.

I was very impressed by the ability of the performers to keep going despite a sometimes quiet audience towards the end, and to maintain momentum. It’s a delight to see when the performers genuinely laugh amongst themselves, and the moments where they genuinely crack each other up. I particularly enjoyed the addition of the ‘Sponsered by…’ segment after a dice was rolled, and the jabs made at Apple’s stubborn operating system and gimmicky products.

Silly, wonderful, and winning, ‘Here Be Improv’ is at its best when the cast wholeheartedly leans into weirdness.

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