Up The Antics: Down The Rabbit Hole

Sun 19th – Sat 25th August 2018


Lauren James

at 18:21 on 23rd Aug 2018



Self-proclaimed ‘Fringe veterans’, Bristol-based comedy collective ‘Up The Antics’ have returned to the festival with their improv show ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’. Admission free, the daily performance takes place in Brewdog, Lothian Road. We are ushered upstairs, taking our seats before a gate-like contraption ominously barricades our only exit. Had this not been the case, the group’s tentative humour and, at times, clunky delivery might have persuaded me to pursue this escape route.

The five performers ask the audience to suggest a location around which their improvisation will be based. Having rejected disabled toilet, the company opt for school and the sketch begins. Whilst comic and sharp at times, the improvisation was not as slick as it needed to be to maintain audience engagement. Depressingly, the funniest moment was supplied courtesy of Jerry, the school’s humble janitor, when he detailed his intricate vomit ranking system. Unfortunately, the wit does not get any more intellectual than this - there is almost a sense of relief when the cliches come to an end and the twenty minutes are over.

Performing after Up the Antics was ImproQuo from Manchester. The pace picked up once they took to the stage, interacting with the audience during fun warm ups. However, this injection of dynamism was short-lived before the commencement of further generic improvisation. Particularly laborious was the Sesame Street sequence in which the two performers were tasked with teaching children a life lesson chosen by the audience. In an ideal world, the humour would have come from the difficulty in beginning alternate sentences with a new letter of the alphabet, starting with ‘w’. However, to make this effective, it would help if the performers could remember which letter comes after x.

Both groups appeared tired and lacklustre. The overriding mistake was their lack of originality as it was easy to compare ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ to other improv shows of superior quality. Next time, I will stay in the bar downstairs.


Thomas Pymer

at 21:14 on 23rd Aug 2018



Down The Rabbit Hole was primarily presented by the comic show ‘Up The Antics’, who split their time half-and-half with a visiting company, Improquo. We'll take a look at 'Up the Antics' first.

They performed their section by taking a single suggestion from the audience as to where their play should be sent (in this case, a school), and went from there. They managed to create a host of characters; teachers who hate teaching, janitors who have ranking charts for different kinds of sick, clueless parents and at least three different examiners. Their performance was slick, with no point when there was not either something going on. Indeed there were several occasions when there was slightly too much going on so some potential routes were lost. This is always a danger of improv, and whenever they did finally manage to decide on one course of action they did stick to it solidly, but it was a shame nonetheless.

Improquo went next, and based their role around a series of TV programmes. They were much more structured than Up The Antics, but also took many more suggestions from the audience: every scene they performed included at least one audience suggestion. They managed to cram in a lot of very entertaining and inventive stuff.

Improquo, however, stumbled a lot more than Up The Antics, which is the other major thing which so often plagues an improv company. Their performance was not as smooth, there were notable moments at which the performers had to stop and think about what to say next, which is not what one wants from an improv show.

One excellent thing that both performances had in common was their jokes. They were both very funny, and I often found myself gasping with laughter. Considering that the jokes were almost entirely made up on the spot, they were very good indeed.

Two different theatre companies, two very different sets of improv, and also unfortunately two sets of different drawbacks. It was a decent set of sketches, and it would be inaccurate to say I didn’t enjoy it. But while I've seen worse, I've also seen better – it might be worth a punt if you're passing.


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