Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Laughs a-plenty as the audience throw out the suggestions that bring The Noise Next Door’s brave new world to surreal life. Ever wanted to be more than a bystander in the progress of civilisation? Here’s your chance to be creator.
The Noise Next Door’s OtherWorld breathes life into the impro format, which can often feel a little too formulaic to really excite, no matter how sharp the comedy is. Taking the premise of being on a new planet after a disaster on planet earth, it isn’t long before audience and players are fully immersed in their very own, brand new world. From suggestions from the audience the world is populated with survivors from earth and even creates its own cultural institutions – to hilarious effect.
It helps that the troupe are young and easy on the eye, but they are also properly, properly funny. There are no egos jostling for position here, only an easy chemistry that allows the whole to become greater than the sum of its parts. This democratic approach to comedy is emphasised by the troupe’s identical black clothes, only differentiated by coloured ties (and a pair of red shoes for the flamboyant Mr Red). There’s something a bit special about this, and as an audience member you feel a bit special for being included in their camaraderie – a warm and fuzzy feeling which reaches its peak when a member of the audience is crowned monarch and serenaded with the planetary anthem!
Particularly strong are the musical numbers, where the ingenuity of the improvisers really shines. There isn’t much in the way of props, which places the focus firmly on the comedic abilities of the troupe – which never fail. On the night I attended not a single sketch fell flat – which is a record many older and more seasoned comedians can only aspire to. Despite the democratic approach, Mr Purple in particular stood out. Perhaps it’s because I’m shallow – he’s hot – but his ability to pull off that special move beloved of dance floors everywhere had the audience in raptures. Yes, we’re talking about ‘the worm’. Special.
Even more special was when a screen was turned round at the end to reveal a whiteboard with a beautifully drawn map of the world we had created together, complete with all the random nonsense of the night. This is improvised comedy at its most delightful – it’s not just witty, slick and a little bit filthy, it’s completely joyous. It’s not quite five stars – at least not the night I attended, though that might say more about my own lack of imaginative suggestions than anything about the troupe’s comedic abilities – but if I could give it four and a half, I would. Stratospheric stuff.