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Edinburgh Fringe 2010

The Improverts

The Improverts

Genre: Improvised Theatre

Venue: Bedlam Theatre


Low Down

It’s impossible not to get swept away in the atmosphere of the Bedlam theatre as the late night show begins, audiences whooping, cheering, going crazy with excitement. There are performers who would kill for that kind of welcome. And then they’re on stage, confident, passionate, and with the absolute conviction that they can do no wrong.


It’s a great show. The pace is high, the gags are brilliant, and the energy never sags. A little secret: It’s the smaller, seemingly most simple improv games that are the real signifier between the average groups, and the really good ones. It’s the same here: playing ‘Alphabet’ – a game that, as you might have guessed, has two actors speaking to each other with each sentence beginning with the next consecutive letter of the alphabet – can all too often be a deathly, tedious torture for the audience – particularly as it’s the one game where everyone knows exactly how long they’ve got left to endure. Not so here, however, where the game is deceptively played quickly and easily, as simple as – well, as your ABC’s.  

What’s quite special (and we’re fully aware that this shouldn’t merit mention in the average review, it’s just that it’s becoming depressingly rare in improv at the moment) is that the cast seem genuinely startled and delighted by what are obviously unexpected developments in the scene, leading to a real sense of magic, and – entirely appropriately – that anything could happen. Also (and this is number two in our list of things that we really shouldn’t have to take time to praise, but it seems a good few current groups are forgetting this basic rule), the Improverts are excellent at accepting audience suggestions absolutely, and without qualification. Even if the suggestions from the over-excited punters could potentially lead to offence, this confident group are skilled at turning it into something that everyone’s happy, while still respecting everyone’s feelings – particularly the individual who’s suggested the idea in the first place.

And yet. Third decade? It might be time to see something new. With the loud music and funky lights, it’s clear that this group see themselves as the improv rock kids of Edinburgh. And that may well be the case. But we want to see the Improverts get extrovert, outside their comfort zone. They are genuinely excellent at short form improv games. Now we want to see what else they’ve got.