An Imp-Revised History of the World

Sun 5th – Sun 26th August 2018

reviews

India Greenland

at 09:27 on 14th Aug 2018

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I had high hopes for this improvised musical, ‘An Imp-revised History of the World’. The audience choose the era and any details they want to put in, and the cast just go. There was a great atmosphere during this free show, and considering it was performed without any costumes, microphones or stage lighting, such a great mood in the room was quite an achievement. Perhaps, however, the Smoky Monkeys were a little ambitious. The show didn’t quite work.

While no one expects improv to be slick and perfect the chaos on stage as the actors created a musical about Ancient Greece (as chosen by the audience) was more extreme than I expected. There were funny moments, as the cast would create great jokes off the cuff. References to their own art of improvising as they went along were also a nice touch and appreciated by the audience. There were some good songs that, considering they were made up as the cast went along, were quite impressive. However, the strange and complicated tale of love stories between humans and Gods we were treated to was quite rambling and got boring fast.

There were too many characters and awkward moments, and the cast did not seem to know what was going on, let alone the audience. Improv is undoubtedly difficult, and everyone expects a bit of silliness. However, ‘History of the World’ descended into ridiculousness in the first twenty minutes, and just wasn’t entertaining after that.

The cast coped well with any issues, and were clearly well practiced and good at communicating and picking up on each other’s cues. It was nice to see that they were really enjoying themselves and having a good time. Clearly really funny people with good ideas, it was just a shame they didn’t quite pull this off.

Fun at the beginning, this show just wasn’t engaging and I think most people were relieved when it was over.

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Emilia Andrews

at 09:40 on 14th Aug 2018

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The best part about attending free fringe shows in the evening is how acceptable it is to go in with a beer in hand, which I felt I needed if I was going to sit through the Smoky Monkey’s ambitious coverage of the entire history of the world. Although, failing to deliver on the promises of its title, ‘An Imp-Revised History of the World’ only covers one part of history – chosen by the audience – during its hour long performance. This time, we were propelled back into Ancient Greece to watch a woman’s quest to find the love of her life, Zeus.

For me, improvisation is at its best when featuring flexibility and wit, neither of which are evident in this performance. With forced, awkward scenes and poor jokes – ‘I don’t even know what tinder is, is it made of tin?’ – I found myself only able to muster a snigger at best.

In general, the performance reminded me of an awkward attempt at Horrible Histories for adults. Its musical numbers are well performed but with cheesy lyrics. Venus, the goddess, singing ‘I’m your Venus’ in her attempts to seduce Zeus in the opening scene set the tone for the corny humour to follow.

‘An Imp-Revised History of the World’ is an interesting idea which if done well, could be fantastic. Shorter sketches covering more than just one historical period would prevent the show from losing its appeal as much. But even if I didn’t feel like I was entirely enjoying the show, it was evident that the actors were. Appearing to suppress smirks and outbursts of laughter throughout each scene, the cast have a fun stage presence. To their credit, it was nice to see a performance in which the actors really seemed to having fun, even if it didn’t appeal to my sense of humour.

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