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Edinburgh Fringe 2010

Battle Acts! Improvised Comedy

Battle Acts!

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Venue: The Three Sisters


Low Down

It’s easy to get cynical about certain genres. You begin to feel that once you’ve seen one improv group, for instance, you’ve seen them all. Particularly if they’re stuck doing short-form improv, and if they’re doing nothing very interesting with it. Not that each improvisation comedy group is required to do something entirely revolutionary with the games they play, but – well, as we’ve said: once you’ve seen one .. Essentially, it doesn’t take too long for your standards to get very high, and that is very often only met by a few of the more established groups. The younger ones appear to want to walk before they can run.


What sets Battle Acts! Apart from a good deal of those other less-established groups that are around is their sheer verve and energy. Too often, we find improv groups clearly more convinced by their own talent than any they display, being lacklustre, unimaginative, and worse, smug. Battle Acts work very hard for their audiences.

In one short hour, it’s quite possible (but frankly unlikely) that the group break one or two ‘rules’ of improvisation comedy. But their support and dedication of each other is so absolute, so energised, that it’s difficult to notice – or indeed, care. This is a group that play hard and fast, and pepper their scenes with countless cultural and literary references, both high and low brow, without ever making the (depressingly common) mistake of signalling to the audience just how clever they’re being. However, it is because they are such a solidly impressive group, that they could also afford to take a few more risks.
We started off this review on a depressing note: essentially, that too few younger improv groups are ready to expose themselves to audiences yet. It’s good to end on a much more positive frame of mind – Battle Acts! deserve every audience member they can get – this is superior improvised comedy.