Edinburgh Fringe 2010
‘No Shoes Theatre’ company join the ranks of those offering an ‘improvised musical’ this Fringe. They are a talented group of improvisers, with some pleasingly inclusive elements to their format, and with good rapport on stage ‘No Shoes Theatre’ prove themselves worthy of the ground they hold. A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an hour.
Fringe go-ers will have noticed a great deal of improvised musical theatre on this year, and fortunately ‘The Improvised Musical’ on offer from ‘No Shoes Theatre’ certainly holds its ground amongst the others.
The format is a standard one, but it has some nice additions and is jam-packed with audience input – which is nice to see especially from a new company who could easily not take the risks they do. Accordingly the show starts with some audience suggestions: a song title, the show’s title, and a setting. Add to this props donated by the audience, and an audience choice of two cards enabling spotlight, flashback, or other similar break away moments (to be used only once, but at any time), and you have a pleasing formula which when it goes right (as it did when I saw it) makes for a really great show.
They are running some risks however, as with so much audience input, and no director on stage, it could be all too easy to go off course. But the night I saw it that wasn’t an issue and all plot lines and song titles were woven together skillfully, and for the most part, slickly. The group managed to stay away from a descent into the ridiculous (always a danger with impro) whilst maintaining a decent amount of silly laughs and good humour. And when the final song kicked in (from the original audience suggestion) the pay off was very satisfying and certainly made the show a great crowd pleaser.
That said, the show is far from perfect, this is a student group of improvisers and their often quiet voices and lack of playing the angles of their thrust staging (try to sit in the central block) do detract from the overall high quality. Additionally, though it is brave to try and navigate long form impro without an intervening director, I can’t help but think that the benefits to be reaped from having a good director on stage would here make something that is very good, really excellent.
Nonetheless, I found this group to be thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to seeing what they bring to the Fringe in future years.