Edinburgh Fringe 2015
“An entirely new and unique Shakespeare play is made up on the spot using the audience’s suggestions. Bursting with comedy, love, poetry, tragedy, power struggles, the supernatural, mistaken identity and everything you’d expect from a Shakespearean play.”
We hurl ping-pong balls, daubed with Shakespearean ideas into an apron and this is all this talented troupe of improvisers useto entertain us for an hour. How do they do that? They pull an authentic forty-minute Bard play seemingly out of thin air.
The flow is impressive in the bare theatre space. No complicated lighting or clever props, though the costumes do help to set the mood and the scene. These performers rely on their vocal and physical skills and it is those skills that carry this off as an impressive piece of improvised theatre. That said, in a better space, with some skilled lighting, this piece would hit the heights of Showstoppers.
This is something a bit different in the improv comedy world. And what an enjoyable hour I had! Comedy sits at the heart of the piece, and yet, aside from the sheer spectacle of seeing such skilled improvised comedy, there were also touching moments of character drama and dialogue that added flesh to the comedy bones.
It was a refreshingly deep performance in places. Often improv sails on the surface and goes for one-liners and punchlines. There were many of those, but a helpful and satisfying narrative unfolded as well. We had a story. We had characters and some of those were richly realised. A handful of genius lines, some great physical comedy – mostly in the way characters interacted – as well as the sheer fact that this felt like a Shakespeare play, all add to the fun.
At one point I thought the Bard must have improvised himself – and have course he did. He made up his plays too – but not on the hoof in front of an audience. Kudos.
Impromptu Shakespeare is at its very best when we feel fully immersed in an authentic Shakespeare comedy. Occasionally that slipped and some unintended modern words and phrases slipped through, reducing the magic a bit. An “OK” here or there needs to be ejected. That’s different from stepping out of character in an intended modern aside. It could also risk being more physical.
This would be an outstanding show if it were 110% in the zone. The fact that it does slip didn’t spoil my thorough enjoyment of the time I was there. Enjoyable, witty, cleverly one, I am happy to recommend this show in the Freestival. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable improvised dive into comedy Shakespeare.