Blind Mirth

Fri 4th – Sat 19th August 2017

reviews

Abi Newton

at 12:35 on 10th Aug 2017

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Blind Mirth advertise themselves as “St Andrews’ first, best and only improv comedy troupe,” and bound onstage in their own (impressive) matching jackets. It’s a show which relies on audience suggestions for situations, which by nature means its content is radically different each night. For this reason, I’d recommend arriving already ‘warmed up’ and ready to shout out suggestions, since the audience can be just as culpable as the performers for ideas which don’t fly. After all, comedy is best seen when you’re in the mood to laugh.

It was obvious that everyone on stage was having a good time, which is arguably the most important thing about any performance, as that way you’re guaranteed at least one person will like it. Luckily the audience seemed genuinely appreciative of the troupe’s efforts. The show was sustained by the crew’s ineffable enthusiasm, both for the skits they were participating in and in the background of their compatriots’. It was sad in a way that some of the members didn’t come forward to participate as much as some of the others, which allowed a couple of big personalities shine through but made others a little less memorable.

The show would occasionally fall into lazy trends – a stream of ‘big-boned’ jokes after a reference to fat free milk felt more like repeated uncomfortable jibes than clever comedy development. The longest section of the night, a 25-minute act in three rotating parts based on the synopsis of a flyer donated by a member of the audience, began to drag the longer it went on. Some of the concepts, while funny initially, didn’t carry well into longer sections. The short ‘games’ were the show’s strength; the funniest of these was an interrogation scene where the person under the spotlight had left the room while the audience decided what crime they had committed – which turned out to be drinking all the ketchup sachets in a McDonald’s kitchen with Rhianna for an accomplice – as the two cast members playing French investigateurs, complete with very long-lasting imaginary Galloises, gave more and more hilariously obvious hints to get the criminal to guess his crime. The silliness of these shorter moments, on a time-limit and therefore free to get zany and fourth wall-breaking without becoming overplayed, made you excited to see what the performers would come up with next. Leaving out the long form improv scenes and sticking to more, shorter skits would perhaps give all the performers more of a chance to shine, and make the comedy fresher from scene to scene.

More than anything else, what came across was that they were a group of friends doing this for fun, their willingness to admit in the moment that some jokes weren’t working giving the show an enjoyable honesty. Their energy can’t be faulted; a little more care to avoid clichés and to switch up sections which aren’t working could allow the troupe to grow into something outstanding.

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Zoe Boothby

at 12:44 on 10th Aug 2017

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‘Blind Mirth’s presence at the Edinburgh Fringe this year is in the form of a youthful, fun, and energetic improvisation comedy show which definitely packs an, albeit lighthearted, punch. Combining short games driven by audience participation and one-liners with one longer piece of improv derived on the spot, the show is an accomplished piece from St Andrew’s ‘first, best, and only improv comedy troupe.’

The improv games deployed in the first half of the show are nothing particularly original, but the vigour and dynamism of the cast affords them a breath of fresh air. The interrogation piece was a particular highlight, as it allowed those not directly involved to, figuratively, ring in their gags from the sidelines. The performers were able to remain relatively composed throughout, and the brief moments of corpsing only added to the hilarity of the night. The performers worked extremely well as a team, especially in the final piece, where they seemed to wordlessly understand where their on-the-spot improvisation was headed; the slickness of their communication during the show seemed to speak to a rigorous rehearsal schedule prior to the Fringe.

Perhaps the greatest strength of ‘Blind Mirth’ lies in the diversity of their performers, with the combination seeming to cover all the bases: puns, dirty humour, farcical, etcetera. Harrison Roberts and Kate Kitchens were at the centre of proceedings, and both provided contrasting energies to the show: Roberts is commanding in his wit and eccentricity, whilst Kitchens’ peppy and up-beat humour is a crowd-pleaser. The two worked very well together during their interrogation scene, bouncing off of each other and the audience well. Sean Robinson’s one-liners in the final piece were quick-witted and suitably filthy, whilst Ed Polsue’s butler in the longer improv section was well-conceived and performed.

As was to be expected, the stage was relatively bare, with just a couple of chairs to be used as props during set pieces. The space was ideal for a comedy troupe; cozy and intimate to encourage audience participation and response. Performers not directly involved with the on-stage action would line along the back of the stage, in a way that occasionally looked disorganized. Instead, it could be rewarding for the excess cast to do something more interesting whilst off-stage, or simply less distracting.

As is the case with improv comedy, the show that I bore witness to will be different to those shown on all other nights of the Fringe; however, the potential of the group was on full display, and it seems safe to suggest that they would be able to perform to as high a standard any other night of the week. Although not ground-breaking material, this is a very strong performance from a student group, which will be sure to cater to all tastes. Sex with ‘Blind Mirth’ deserves a four-star review: fun, satisfactory, and leaves you wanting more!

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