Brighton Fringe 2008
Mayday! The Musical
Venue: The Udderplace, Asahi Pasture, Brighton
Festival: Brighton Fringe
Improvised Musical Comedy. Everything: songs, plot, music and even choreography is completely improvised.
The Maydays are a motley crew of six improv performers – displaying a refreshing mix of ages, which meant the usual ‘student improv humour’ so often apparent in these types of show was thankfully not present.
Taking an audience suggestion for a a musical that ‘has never and will never be performed,’ the title they had to play with on this particular day was the mercifully (for them) vague ‘Whoops’. They also somehow had to work the song ‘I wish I’d put a stamp on’, somewhere into the musical, which ended up tying in nicely with the lady who sold her husband’s soul on E-bay.
With an excellent live pianist onstage, largely playing muzak for musicals in the background of the scenes, he sensitively responded to the improvised dramas playing out in front of him – knowing when to build the music into a crescendo that would encourage a song.
These were all obviously seasoned improvisational performers, who worked well together, never blocking each other’s flow, and sensitively ending scenes when they were floundering. Their imaginations were excellent, and they had clearly worked on a general format the improvised musical should run to, which kept them to time and gave a good structure.
All good comedy actors, it was the singing part where some of the company were let down. Obviously inventing songs on the spot is a feat few can achieve without incredible musical talent, but there was a rather marked difference between the quite exceptional skill of one of the female performers and her male colleague’s more tuneless efforts.